A group of researchers from the University of North Carolina conducted a study on the antiviral medication Truvada and concluded that women need much higher doses of this drug than men, revealing the fact that this medication does not work in the same way in both genders.
According to the researchers’ findings, women need to take this medication daily, while men need only two doses per week, because of how differently it accumulates in various body tissues.
Professor and senior author Angela Kashuba explains that when trying to determine the best method of preventing HIV, we first need to understand which area of the body presents the most risk for infection, as well as the drug concentration required to protect it from infection.
In order to conduct this study, the researchers placed human cells in a test tube and later measured the amount of DNA material, along with the drug concentration needed to prevent an HIV infection.
After administering Truvada to 47 healthy females, they took cervical, rectal and vaginal tissue samples and examined the drug levels and DNA material from each person.
What they discovered was that in order to prevent HIV infection in cervical and vaginal tissue, they needed two times more Truvada than in the rectal tissue.
The first explanation for this is that fewer drug ingredients are capable of penetrating those two types of tissue and the second explanation is that the virus typically uses more DNA material when it wants to reproduce in these tissues, thus requiring a larger quantity of Truvada in order to prevent infection.
Even though the Food and Drug Administration has been advising men and women to take this medication daily for a few years now, researchers say that men do not need to have this drug administered more than two times per week. Nevertheless, they do recommend people to consult with their physicians before making any changes.
Truvada, which is produced by Gilead, is a type of medication used to treat HIV-1 infections in teenagers (12 or older) and adults.
It has recently come under scrutiny after a Canadian was reportedly diagnosed with HIV, even though he claimed to have taken the drug constantly for 24 months. This has led many people to question its effectiveness and whether it is even worth investing in it.
Nevertheless, Dr. David Knox, who is an HIV specialist, believes that the drug’s failure in this case might be attributed to a rare HIV 1 strain, which is resistant to both tenofovir and emtricitabine.
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