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Europe approves first long-acting HIV treatment injection

The first long-acting treatment injection for HIV has been approved in Europe.

ViiV Healthcare has received marketing approval for a breakthrough antiviral injection that is administered once every one or two months, removing the need for daily oral medication for some people.

Dr Antonio Antela of the University Hospital, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, said that the new treatment could have a range of benefits for people living with HIV, according to the European Pharmacy Review.

“Daily antiretrovirals have transformed the lives of people living with HIV,” said Dr Antela.

“However, taking daily medication can pose challenges for some people; it may act as a constant reminder of HIV or be a cause of fear that their HIV status will be disclosed.

“Following the oral initiation phase to assess the tolerability of the medicines, cabotegravir and rilpivirine injections could reduce the number of days of treatment per year from 365 down to 12 for the once-monthly, or six for the once-every-two-months dosing regimen, representing a paradigm shift in how we are able to treat and manage the condition.

“The long-acting regimen of cabotegravir and rilpivirine was as effective as treatment with current daily antiviral therapy in the clinical trials in maintaining viral suppression, is generally well-tolerated, and could change the treatment experience for some people living with HIV that may have challenges with daily HIV therapies.”

The long-acting injection is not yet approved for use in Australia, but oral antiviral medications also remain exceedingly effective for most people living with HIV.

In Australia, 97% of people with HIV who are on treatment have an undetectable viral load, meaning they cannot pass on the virus.

Along with other prevention methods such as PrEP, this has led to a massive decrease in new cases of HIV, with just 903 diagnoses reported naationally in 2019.

Australia has reached the 2020 international UNAIDS targets of at least 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90% of those diagnosed taking antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of those on treatment having an undetectable viral load.

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