An affordable, globally available drug – low-dose aspirin – could help prevent HIV transmission, scientists say.
HIV infection rates remain unacceptably high, especially in young African women.
Researchers like Manitoba University in Canada tested the effects of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or aspirin) and other anti-inflammatory drugs on target HIV cells in a group of Kenyan women with low HIV risk
The pilot study reported in the Journal The International AIDS Society was based on existing knowledge about the role of inflammation in HIV transmission.
The transmission of the virus requires a sensitive target cell in the human host. Activated immune cells are more susceptible to HIV infection than quiescent cells. It is known that inflammation brings activated HIV target cells into the female genital tract.
The researchers found that aspirin is the most effective anti-inflammatory drug. It reduced the number of HIV target cells in the female genital tract by 35 percent.
The reduced number of HIV target cells in women taking aspirin approached the level in Kenyan women at high risk of HIV contraction, which have remained since 1
"Further research is needed to assess our findings with aspirin to test and test whether this level of reduction of target cells can actually prevent HIV infection, "said Keith R Fowke of the University of Manitoba.
"This could be a strategy for HIV prevention that is not only cheap, but easily accessible worldwide, and people in poverty are disproportionately at risk of contracting HIV, and we need prevention approaches that are affordable and readily available." Fowke said.
The goal is to provide a new tool in the arsenal of HIV prevention that could be used with other approaches to reduce HIV transmission in high-risk populations, Fowke said.
We were given the same daily low dose of aspirin that is commonly used for the long-term prevention of cardiovascular disease. Participants said that aspirin does not carry the stigma of other anti-HIV drugs, which could mean that it is more likely to be used on a regular basis.