‘Injectable antiretroviral treatment just as effective as pill-based methods’

A monthly injection to treat the infection of HIV is just as effective as a daily pill regimen, two initial trials have found. These results were presented at an HIV research conference in Seattle on Thursday March 7. 

According to Rolling Stone, health care company Viiv Healthcare announced the completion of the two clinical trials, involving more than 10 000 people, for a monthly injectable antiretroviral medication, which they say shows that the long-acting, once-a-month injections are effective “compared to a [standard] daily, oral three-drug regimen.”

PinkNews reports that the injection involves a combination of two drugs – Cabotegravir, a new drug that is currently undergoing trials, and Rilpivirine, an antiviral that was developed by the pharmaceutical company Janssen and that treatment would essentially allow people to receive injections of anti-retroviral medication once a month. 

The website further states that researchers behind the trials claim that the patients who received the injectable treatment overwhelmingly preferred it to the standard pill-based course of treatment.

While ART medications have proven thus far to be effective at slowing the progression of the virus, it’s often difficult to take by people who forget to regularly take these pills, Viiv Healthcare said. The company also revealed that it can be difficult for particularly low-income individuals to travel to clinics to obtain the medication. 

In a statement released by ViiV Healthcare, Chloe Orkin, M.D. – a consultant physician and clinical professor at Queen Mary University of London – is quoted as saying this “long-acting, injectable two-drug regimen may provide an opportunity to change the paradigm for people living with HIV”. 

This is done by breaking the cycle of a daily pill, which has been “a defining characteristic of HIV therapy for several decades.”