Gates Foundation Awards Grants for Study of HIV, Tuberculosis Treatments
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced yesterday that it has awarded Family Health International a three-year, $6.5 million grant to fund a national clinical trial to evaluate whether the antiretroviral drug tenofovir is effective at reducing the risk of HIV infection among sexually active adults who are "regularly exposed" to the virus. Tenofovir, which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences and is marketed under the brand name Viread, is already FDA-approved for use as a treatment for HIV infection (Gates Foundation release, 10/28). Viread is designed to attack drug-resistant strains of HIV. The drug has been shown to boost immune response and lower viral levels in the bloodstream in patients who are resistant to other antiretrovirals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/25). The new study will evaluate whether a once-daily dose of the drug can reduce the risk of HIV infection among sexually active adults in developing nations with high HIV transmission rates. If tenofovir is found to be effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission, it could benefit women who lack the power to negotiate condom use with their partners (Gates Foundation release, 10/28).
Gates Foundation to Fund TB Study
The Gates Foundation also has awarded $3 million to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to help develop community-based tuberculosis prevention strategies in areas of high HIV prevalence. The grant will be awarded to the Consortium to Respond Effectively to the AIDS-Tuberculosis Epidemic (CREATE) to study TB prevention strategies, as well as the effect of HIV treatment on TB rates. The strategies will complement the World Health Organization's Directly Observed Therapy, Short Course TB treatment regimen. "It is increasingly apparent that the HIV epidemic is rapidly undermining all existing methods of controlling TB. CREATE will focus on developing innovative and effective public health strategies for controlling HIV-related TB," Dr. Richard Chaisson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research, said (Gates Foundation release, 10/28).