World news – A new HIV treatment is carried out every month

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Dear Doctor, what can you tell me about the new monthly HIV treatment that was recently approved? My uncle has lived with HIV for almost 25 years. He is a senior now and forgets more and more of the medication he is taking.

Dear Reader, You are referring to a monthly injectable HIV treatment that has just been greened by the US Food and Drug Administration Received light. It’s an extended-release drug – the first of its kind to receive FDA approval – and it will mean a change for many people living with HIV. Treatment, which is done in a two-shot combination, is not for everyone and comes with some limitations.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system. If left untreated, it can cause the disease we know as AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is most commonly spread through unprotected sex or sharing syringes with an infected person. It can also be acquired from infected blood products in a medical setting. However, since HIV testing of blood products and donated organs was performed, this type of transmission has been rare. While mother-to-child transmission is also possible during pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding, effective interventions have reduced this transmission rate to less than 5%.

There are currently around 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States. About 14% of them – that’s 1 in 7 – are unaware of their HIV-positive status.

Until the advent of antiretroviral therapies in the early 1990s, the average life expectancy of people with AIDS was one year. Thanks to antiretroviral drugs, HIV / AIDS has become a manageable chronic disease. To prevent replication of the virus and limit drug resistance, treatment initially consisted of several drugs that were taken throughout the day. This eventually changed to fewer pills, but it was still a challenge for certain patients, including some older adults.

The newly approved drug known as Cabenuva is a full regimen that is injected once a month. It enables patients like your uncle to improve their compliance. Instead of having to remember to take their medication 365 times a year, they have to receive treatment monthly. Cabenuva combines an existing drug with a new drug that is packaged together and given as two separate shots. In the US, a regimen available in Europe is currently being tested every two months. The FDA has also approved the new drug in tablet form, to be taken one month before the start of injectable therapy. The goal is to prepare the body for a smooth transition to injectable drugs.

As with all drugs, the new injectable therapy has potential side effects. These include tiredness, headache, joint and muscle pain, swelling at the injection site, rash, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping. Cabenuva is intended for people who are already on a successful HIV / AIDS regimen without previous treatment failure and who have not had a history of resistance to the antiretroviral drugs in the injectable. Eligible therapy cannot be administered at home and requires monthly clinic visits.

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health.

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