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HIV Therapy Truvada Is Linked to a Lower Risk of COVID-19

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Most people who have HIV benefit from antiretroviral therapy (ART), a combination of drugs aimed at suppressing the virus so it doesn’t evolve into AIDS. There are many different drugs and combinations that may be used for this purpose. While the primary goal of all of them is to control HIV/AIDS, new research suggests that one specific regimen might offer the bonus benefit of also lowering COVID-19 risk.

In the study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers examined data on nearly 78,000 HIV-positive people in Spain who were taking some type of ART between February and April 2020.

Among the group, coronavirus infection was relatively rare. Only 236 people were diagnosed, but of those, 151 required hospitalization. This suggests that HIV-positive people getting proper treatment aren’t any more likely to contract COVID-19 in the first place, which is similar to what researchers in New York City and Madrid had previously reported.

But this particular study also determined that HIV patients using one type of ART — a combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC), known as Truvada — were the least likely among all of the HIV patients to develop coronavirus.

Truvada is one component of ART that is used for the treatment of HIV. It is also used alone for the prevention of HIV (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) in people who do not have HIV but are at high risk for it.

The authors noted that “we cannot think of any mechanisms” that would explain why Truvada seems to offer some protection against COVID-19, but this connection is certainly notable enough to warrant further exploration. In fact, the researchers suggested that this therapy should next be studied “in randomized trials for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 in persons without HIV.”

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Antiretroviral Therapy for HIV Infection. Medscape. July 9, 2020.

del Amo J, et al. Incidence and Severity of COVID-19 in HIV-Positive Persons Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy. Annals of Internal Medicine. June 26, 2020. doi:

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