One study finds that women who take aspirin daily reduce their risk of HIV by 35%

HIV requires

HIV requires "target cells" in the genital tract. Studies have shown that inflammation increases the number of those cells. Now, a study shows that anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the risk of HIV

Daily aspirin could reduce women's risk of contracting HIV by 35 percent, according to a new study.

To infect someone, the virus requires susceptible cells in the genital tract, and previous studies have shown that people with higher blood pressure are more likely to have vulnerable cells there.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba tested this theory by administering a low dose of the anti-inflammatory drug to a group of women in Kenya.

The results were clear: after six weeks, the number of HIV target cells in their genital tracts had been reduced by 35 percent.

And now, several years after starting the study, all the women who received the prescription remain uninfected.

"These are very promising results," lead author Dr. Keith Fowke told Global News.

"The reduced number of HIV target cells in women who took aspirin came close to the level found in Kenyan women at high risk of contracting HIV who have remained uninfected for many years."

All women were low-risk, HIV-negative women living in Kenya.

They were not exposed to HIV during the study, but were monitored to see how their levels of HIV target cells changed.

Dr. Fowke said it is highly unlikely that aspirin has the ability to be used as a preventive measure on its own.

For that, there are already medicines on the market worldwide: pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drastically reduces the risk of infection.

What the study shows, he says, is that sexually active people, particularly those at high risk of contracting HIV, should consider adding aspirin to your protective measures, such as condoms and PrEP.

But, he says, more studies are needed to explore its range of benefits and shortcomings.

"What we have to do is show that we can see the same thing, the same effect, in women who are very exposed to HIV," Dr. Fowke told CBC.

"And we also need to know if there is a different dose that maybe I can do better."

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