Antiretroviral Drugs May Prevent Vaginal Transmission of HIV

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Antiretroviral drugs used to treat people with HIV might also prevent vaginal transmission of the virus, claims a study by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

The vast majority of new HIV infections worldwide, which total about 6,800 new transmissions daily, occur through unprotected vaginal sex with an infected partner.

For this study, the researchers used special mice with fully developed human immune systems that produced the infection-fighting cells specifically targeted by HIV in people. The Texas team found that daily doses of antiretroviral drugs before and after exposure to HIV can prevent vaginal transmission of the virus.

HIV was introduced vaginally into the mice. None of the mice that received the antiretroviral drugs emtricitabine (FTC) and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) showed any evidence of infection, while 90 percent of mice that didn't receive the drugs became infected by HIV.

The study was published in the Jan. 14 online issue of PLoS Medicine.

"Our motivation is to look for interventions that can be implemented rapidly and have the potential to make a big difference," senior study author Dr. J. Victor Garcia-Martinez, a professor of internal medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"We don't want something in 10 years. We want female-controlled prevention measures now. Our observations support the potential for antiviral drugs to function as an effective pre-exposure prophylaxis against the further spread of AIDS," Garcia-Martinez said.

More information

The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about HIV/AIDS drugs.

SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, news release, Jan. 14, 2008