Studies on the use of a single pill to prevent HIV infection will go on despite the discontinuation of a similar study in Bondo on Monday.
The studies, which are being conducted in Thika, Kisumu, Nairobi, Eldoret and several parts of Uganda, involve 4,800 discordant couples – where one partner is HIV positive.
The discontinued study in Bondo, Nyanza Province, had enrolled HIV negative women, on whom the drug Truvada showed no effectiveness.
According to Dr Nelly Mugo, the principal investigator at the Thika study site, they were surprised and disappointed at the development in Bondo but the work, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, would continue.
“Our interim data, which was analysed recently, was seen to offer encouraging results. “We are trying to find out whether the use of anti-retrovirals before sex can protect against HIV infection,” Dr Mugo said of the study which ends next year.
A statement released by the University of Washington yesterday said the researchers involved in the discontinued study would thoroughly analyse all the data collected so far to get a clear understanding of why the drug failed.
The ongoing studies are being conducted by the University of Washington and Kenyatta National Hospital and are investigating two drugs; Truvada and Tenofovir.
The Bondo study raised questions on whether the drugs work differently in men and women.
According to a study released in December, a similar pill was found to reduce HIV transmission among men who have sex with men.
The study was conducted among 2,499 HIV negative men at 11 sites in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, South Africa, Thailand and the United States.
In July, a South African study established that a vaginal gel containing Tenofovir was 39 per cent effective in reducing a woman’s HIV risk when used for about three quarters of sex acts and 54 per cent effective when used more consistently.