In 2021, women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for three of five new HIV infections, and young women aged 15–24 years were three times as likely as young men in the same age group to be infected with HIV. Despite expanded access to oral PrEP, women are disproportionately affected by HIV experiencing considerable barriers to daily pill-taking, including stigma, judgement, and the fear of violence from partners, family, and community members. Long-acting products such as cabotegravir, a novel integrase strand transfer inhibitor, has the potential to help women overcome many of these challenges when administered as an intramuscular injection every 8 weeks.
“Cabotegravir for the prevention of HIV-1 in women: results from HPTN 084, a phase 3 randomised clinical trial,” published in The Lancet, provides the first evidence of the safety and efficacy of cabotegravir when used for HIV prevention in women.
HPTN 084 is a phase 3, randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, active-controlled, superiority trial done in 20 clinical research sites in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the burden of HIV in women is high (ie, Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe). The study showed cabotegravir was superior to daily oral tenofovir disoproxil fumarate plus emtricitabine in preventing HIV infection in a trial population.
The Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases’s Mina Hosseinipour, MD, professor of medicine in infectious diseases, and scientific director of UNC Project-Malawi, and Myron Cohen, MD, the Yeargan-Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and Epidemiology, and IGHID Director, contributed to this research.