Strawberry-Flavored HIV Drug 'Truly an Advance'

HIV medication for babies will be much easier to swallow as a tablet
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2020 12:50 PM CST
On AIDS Day, an Advance for Infants Emerges
This photo provided by the International Partnership for Microbicides shows a ring coated with an anti-AIDS drug.   (Andrew Loxley/International Partnership for Microbicides via AP)

Developing HIV medications for infants is difficult enough, but then somebody has to get them to swallow it. Many of the options have a bitter taste infants reject. Now, one such medication, dolutegravir, will be available in a strawberry-flavored tablet that will dissolve in juice or water, the New York Times reports. "This is truly an advance," says a pediatrician who advises the World Health Organization. Last year, a combination of older drugs became available in strawberry sprinkles, at $365 per year. The new dolutegravir will run about $36 annually. The WHO says about 160,000 children become infected each year with HIV, most of them in Africa. It happens at birth or when they're breastfed by mothers who don't realize they have HIV. If they don't receive treatment, about half of the children will die before they turn 2.

The advancement was one of two announcements made on World AIDS Day, per the Times. The other is that the WHO has given its approval to a vaginal insert that has been shown to prevent HIV infection. The ring, made of silicone, releases small amounts of the drug dapivirine over the course of a month to keep the virus from infecting tissue. "Our aim is to make the ring available first in sub-Saharan Africa, where women face persistently high HIV risk," the International Partnership for Microbicides announced in a statement. The ring does not require refrigeration, and a woman can use the device without her partner knowing. The WHO said Tuesday on its website that "the global HIV epidemic is not over and may be accelerating during the COVID-19 pandemic." (An experimental treatment may have cured a Brazilian AIDS patient.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.