An affordable, globally available drug may help reduce the number of new HIV cases, according to a new study coming out of Winnipeg.

Low-dose Aspirin – the same over-the-counter medication that is commonly used to treat cardiovascular disease – has be observed to play a role in the reduction of HIV target cells in patients, potentially decreasing the virus’ ability to be passed from one person to another.

“These are promising results,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Keith Fowke, head of the department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases at the Max Rady College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba.

The study, published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, was conducted on a test group of Kenyan women by a team of researchers from the universities of Manitoba, Waterloo and Nairobi, in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Study participants were given daily treatments of low-dose aspirin, and then monitored for results.

Researchers found that Aspirin was the most effective drug in reducing the number of HIV target cells, in some patients by as much by 35 per cent.

“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,” said Fowke.

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

The team of researchers plans to continue their study, to better understand Aspirin’s effect on the virus.