HIV Drug That Treats Other Infections: Medication Re-Purposing

You may be familiar with the idea of re-purposing: Just spend some time on Pinterest and you can find all sorts of ideas on ways to reuse items for fashion, home décor, furniture and the like. Repurposing can work for medication as well. Take, for example, some of the antiretroviral drugs that are helping HIV-infected patients have a more normal life expectancy. We have now identified an HIV drug that treats other infections.

A recent study showed one of these drugs can be effective against one of the most prevalent and dangerous diseases of our time. Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a widespread sexually transmitted disease and an imminent danger due to its strong link to cervical cancer in women. The combination of the rapid spread of this disease across the country (and the whole world) combined with the sheer number of cancers it can cause, has made this a matter of public concern.

A study in Kenya showed that people are three times more likely to end up with HIV if they have ever been infected with HPV. Because of the prevalence in that nation of people ending up with both conditions, studies were conducted in order to see if any HIV drugs in particular would be effective against HPV. A ‘two birds with one stone’ approach, if you will. It was found that the HIV therapy drug Lopinavir could help treat HPV, even if the patient was already in a precancerous stage. This is certainly good news. Hopefully, once the drug has finished clinical trials, it can begin commercial use in the U.S. to help those with HPV.

Finding an HIV drug that treats other infections is clearly good news. However, prevention is far better than a cure. So, what can we do to protect ourselves? A vaccine for HPV exists and it is important to use this option to protect yourself from the virus and from the cancers that HPV can cause. Of course, you should check with your doctor and see if this is the best option for you.