A Single Weekly Pill For HIV Could Be On Its Way


As well as HIV treatment, the weekly pill could also potentially be used for HIV prevention.

Article by Jess Jones, StarObserver.com.au

US scientists are currently working on a single pill that could be taken just once a week for HIV.

The slow-release capsule could replace the daily medication currently needed to control the virus, according to BBC News.

The new pill looks like a normal capsule but contains a week’s worth of antiretroviral medication in a special star-shaped structure that allows it to stay in the stomach and release slowly over the course of a week.


While researchers say its availability for human use is “still a way off”, the pill has shown promising results in animal trials.

Part of the motivation for creating a once-a-week medication was compliance—up to 30 per cent of people being treated for HIV have trouble taking their pills every day.

“We wanted to come up with a system to make it easier for patients to stick to taking their treatments,” said researcher Giovanni Traverso of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Changing a medication so it only needs to be taken once a week rather than once a day should be more convenient and improve compliance.”

As well as HIV treatment, a weekly pill could potentially also be used for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people who are negative.

Human trials of the slow-release pill are planned in the next 12 months.

The researchers hope that similar slow-release medications could also be developed for other medical conditions.

“Once-a-month formulations might even be possible for some diseases,” said Traverso.

“There are lots of patients this could help, including people with dementia or mental health conditions such as schizophrenia.”