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Rutgers Launches Study of Monthly HIV Prevention Pill

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The studies will examine the effectiveness of the medication, Islatravir, compared with the daily pill currently available, Truvada

HIV infection continues to rage in Essex and Hudson counties. There is already a pill to prevent it, but something better may be on the way.

The pill Truvada must be taken daily, and experts say it can be difficult to get people to take a daily pill to simply prevent a disease.

Researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School are working on something new, a pill taken once a month.

“The rationale for the study is comparing this pill which will be given once a month, compared to the traditional HIV prevention medicine which is one pill every day,” said Professor Shobha Swaminathan, the principal investigator for the studies that are now underway. She said more options are always better.

“We do need to have diverse choices available so each person can say well this works for me or that works for me,” she said.

Swaminathan says the difference in results could be significant. She said studies show many people have trouble sticking to a 7- to 10-day course of antibiotics.

Essex and Hudson counties are two of the 48 counties in the US that have been identified as high HIV infection areas.

Swaminathan said the numbers show that what we have now isn’t working.

“Despite having Truvada people could say well you already have a pill a day why do you need another medication? Clearly we are not meeting the needs of the community,” she said.

She said statistics show that in northeast New Jersey the number of Black women living with HIV is 18 times that of white women.

People interested in participating in the studies may call (844) 782-6765 or email researchwithaheart@njms.rutgers.edu.