Novel drug delivery system has game-changing potential to reduce rates of HIV infection

December 1, 2017 by PATH

An international collaboration announces preclinical development of a microarray patch delivery system for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis

Media contact: Kate Davidson |

Seattle, WA, December 1, 2017—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), awarded PATH a three-year, $9.4 million grant to advance a needle-free microarray patch for delivery of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Microarray patches are a discreet, easy-to-use technology that contains an array of tiny projections that painlessly penetrate the top layer of skin to deliver a drug.


PATH, ViiV Healthcare, Queen's University Belfast, the Population Council, and LTS Lohmann Therapie-Systeme AG will combine their complementary expertise to develop a novel microarray patch for HIV PrEP in preparation for future clinical trials. The collaborators will engage with women and health care workers in Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda to design a microarray patch product that meets their needs.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that 1.8 million people became infected with HIV in 2016, with the majority of infections occurring in young women in sub-Saharan Africa. Consistent use of daily oral HIV PrEP can help reduce the risk of infection, but compliance can be challenging. A discreet delivery mechanism that enables self-administration of a long-acting PrEP—with the potential to protect users for weeks or months at a time—could increase adherence for at-risk women and others.

"We are excited to work in close collaboration with both the public and private sectors to rapidly advance an alternative delivery technology to address a critically important global health need," says Darin Zehrung, team leader and program advisor at PATH for the Devices and Tools Program. "In the future, our vision is a self-administered microarray patch for PrEP product designed by, and for, the people who need it most."

About the United States Agency for International Development

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide. USAID is a key implementing agency of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and is responsible for over half of all PEPFAR programs with activities focused in 35 priority countries and regions, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Learn more about USAID's microbicides program at