Skip to Content
Biotechnology

This implant could prevent HIV infection

hiv implant
hiv implant
hiv implantMerck

A tiny implant may prevent a person from getting HIV for a year, reports the New York Times.

The implant: It’s a plastic tube the size of a matchstick that slowly releases an anti-HIV drug. It would be placed under the skin of the arm.

HIV prevention: Even if you don't have the virus, taking anti-HIV drugs daily can stop you from getting infected. Such "pre-exposure prophylaxis," or PrEP, is for people at high risk of getting the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Set and forget: The idea behind the implant is that it would make PrEP easier. Because it would release an antiviral drug little by little over months, people would not have to remember to swallow pills. It’s based on a similar implant for birth control.

The evidence: The device is being developed by Merck, which carried out a three-month-long preliminary test in just 12 men. It contains an experimental, but long-acting, anti-HIV drug called islatravir. The company presented the prototype today at an HIV science conference in Mexico City

Downsides: Without having to fear the HIV virus, people on PrEP drugs might end up getting other sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, more often. That was the finding of a study published this April on 4,375 gay and bisexual men in Australia.

Deep Dive

Biotechnology

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.