A US-based Kenyan scientist Professor Benson Edagwa and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has discovered the world’s first antiretroviral (ARV) drug to be taken once-a-year. The scientists modified an existing ARV drug – cabotegravir – to enable the body to absorb and release it slowly from tissues over 12 months.

Professors Benson Edagwa and Howard Gendelman have already tested the new drug on mice and non-human primates and found it safe and effective. The new product has the potential to eliminate complications that arise from missing doses.

“This occurs for extended time periods and in laboratory and animal testing up to a year,” said Prof Edagwa who designed and produced the required modifications of the new product. the new formulation will be given as an injection once a year. The breakthrough was reported on Monday in Nature Materials, a leading peer-reviewed biomedical research journal.

The discovery means people living with HIV will not have to take drugs daily, as it is the case at the moment. The new pill, according to the scientists could also act as a vaccine for healthy people who take it and have unprotected sex. It’s however, not a cure for HIV/Aids.

ARVs are well-proven to suppress HIV if taken consistently by infected people. This means the new product can act both as a vaccine for negative people and treatment for those already infected.

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