NHS approve new jab for treatment of HIV

Thousands of people living with HIV in Britain will no longer need to take daily medication after experts have approved revolutionary injections. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the antiretroviral drugs cabotegravir and rilpivirine in England and Wales after trials proved they worked as effectively and could lift the ‘burden of daily oral therapy’ for those opting with the new treatment. 

While HIV, which attacks the immune system, is still incurable, findings suggest the new treatment could lower the viral load in the blood so much that particles become undetectable and could not be transmitted to others. 

Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust said, “Innovations that can make it easier for people to stick to their treatment plans both improve the wellbeing of people living with HIV and bring us one step closer to the goal of ending transmissions by 2030.” 

Clinical trial results show cabotegravir with rilpivirine are just as effective as oral drugs at keeping the viral load low. The antiretrovirals are administered as two separate injections every two months, as an alternative to daily oral medication. 

With around 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV, an initial number of 13,000 people may be eligible for the new treatment in England alone. 

Garry Brough of Positively UK said the injection “is a huge step forward. Having to take tablets every day can be physically, emotionally and socially burdensome for some people. This decision reflects the rightful need for people living with HIV to have the freedom to manage their HIV in a way that works best for them.” 

Chloe Orkin, professor of HIV medicine at Queen Mary University of London, has also stated, “This is a paradigm-shifting moment in the UK where, for the first time, it is possible to release people with HIV from the burden of daily oral therapy and offer them just six treatments per year.” 

A treatment required only six times a year removes the need to take pills every single day and may lessen the emotional toll of living with the stigma attached to HIV. 

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Una Jones

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January 2022
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