Daily aspirin may help keep HIV at bay, says University of Manitoba study

A readily available, low-cost drug may help prevent HIV transmission, according to a new study out of Winnipeg.

Low-dose aspirin — the same used to help prevent cardiovascular disease — shows promise as a new way to help prevent HIV from transmitting from one person to the other, a University of Manitoba study has found.

The team, including researchers from the universities of Manitoba, Waterloo and Nairobi, tested the effect of acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) and other anti-inflammatory drugs on HIV target cells.


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The drugs were given to a group of Kenyan women at low risk for HIV, as infection rates are high among young African women, said the researchers.

In order for HIV to transmit, it needs a susceptible target cell in the uninfected person. Previous studies have shown that inflammation “brings activated HIV target cells to the female genital tract,” said researchers.

Aspirin, it was found, was the most effective drug to prevent those target cells from reaching the female genital tract, reducing the number of cells by 35 per cent.


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“These are highly promising results,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Keith Fowke, head of the department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases at the U of M.

“The reduced number of HIV target cells in the women who took Aspirin approached the level found in Kenyan women at high risk of HIV contraction who have remained uninfected for many years.”

“This could be a strategy for HIV prevention that is not only inexpensive, but easily accessed globally,” Fowke added.

The hope is that this discovery will be a tool in the HIV prevention arsenal, said Fowke.

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