"HIV Release" by Bette Korber at Los Alamos National Laboratory / Public Domain

Monthly HIV injection could free patients from gruelling drug regimen

Mar 8, 2019

By Amy Maxmen

Long-acting medicines have proved as effective as daily pills in preventing HIV from replicating, according to results from twin trials that enrolled more than 1,000 people in 16 countries.

The drugs tested, cabotegravir and rilpivirine, are given once a month as an injection. They are the first of several long-acting antiretroviral HIV medicines in development, which researchers hope will tackle one of the toughest challenges in the fight against HIV: how to ensure that people consistently take the drugs that can prevent the virus from replicating in their cells. Skipped doses put people with HIV, and their sexual partners, at risk.

Researchers say long-acting medicines could ensure that the vast majority of people who are prescribed antiretroviral drugs — the standard treatment for HIV — successfully suppress the virus, in line with goals set by the United Nations. And it could help the US government to meet its aim of reducing HIV transmission in the country by 90% in the next decade. Researchers hope that long-acting drugs might prevent HIV, too.

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