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For people at high risk of contracting HIV, missing doses of their daily HIV prevention pills can have big consequences. In some cases, missing a pill can lead to lack of protection against the virus.

Since 2017, the lab of Rahima Benhabbour, PhD, MSc, associate professor in the UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been working with a research team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consisting of J. Gerardo García-Lerma, MSc, PhD, Ivana Massud, PhD, and Charles Dobard, PhD and others at UNC, to develop an injectable implant that can release HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications into the body for a long period of time.

Their latest research, published in Nature Communications, shows that the team’s latest formulation can provide up to six months of full protection.

“This is the first time we showed 100% protection against multiple virus challenges in a macaque model of PrEP over an extended period of time,” said Benhabbour, “Our goal with this technology is a once or twice-yearly injection that could be self-administered.”

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