Trials have begun for the use of the drug cabotegravir as a way to prevent HIV infections. The drug is currently used to help control virus levels in those already infected, but this trial will show if the drug is also effective at preventing new infections. If proven successful, cabotegravir may be used as an alternative to the once-a-day pill Truvada, as available medications to prevent HIV infections.

The new trial will enroll 4,500 men who have sex with men and transgender women at 45 sites in eight countries, Buzzfeed News reported. Half of the group will be given cabotegravir injections every two months alongside daily placebo pills. The other group will be given placebo injections every two months alongside daily Truvada pills. This way, the researchers will be able to see if cabotegravir has comparable HIV infection prevention rates as the already available Truvada. The trial will last four years, with results being released to the public by 2021.

Read: Taking Anti-HIV Pill As Needed Prevents Infection

Currently, Truvada is the medication available to help prevent HIV transmissions, and although it is highly effective in preventing new infections, some struggle to take the necessary daily pills. For example, a 2015 study found that compliance rates were particularly low among black male HIV patients and those from lower incomes. This is particularly troubling, since gay black males have the highest diagnosis rate in the U.S, The Center For Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Truvada and cabotegravir are both "pre-exposure prophylaxis" (PrEP) which help to reduce the risk of HIV infection. The drugs work by making it more difficult for the virus to reproduce in the body, therefore reducing the risk of the viral load becoming large enough to cause a new infection, Tech Times reported. While cabotegravir is not expected to be more effective than Truvada, having the option to get a monthly injection as opposed to a daily pill may help prevent in some at-risk groups.

“I think having more available prevention options for people will be really critical,” Albert Liu, research director of the HIV prevention program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, told BuzzFeed News .”Having a range of options for HIV prevention will also be enormously helpful to bringing down new cases of HIV.”

See Also:

Women Need Higher Doses Of Truvada Than Men To Prevent HIV Infection

Giving High Risk Gay Men A Daily PrEP Pill Could Reduce Number Of New HIV Cases