People at risk of getting HIV will now have an injectable option for pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep) after the US regulator approved its use in adults and adolescents
The injectable drug, cabotegravir, which goes by the brand name Apretude, is the first ever injectable HIV Prep option that at-risk people will take at intervals of two months.
The caveat for its use, as imposed by the Food and Drug Administration, is that the user has to be HIV negative and weigh at least 35 kilogrammes.
Before this approval, other forms of PrEP that were taken by HIV negative at-risk individuals were daily pills and so far, only two types of those— Truvada and Descovy— had been approved for use.
“Today’s approval adds an important tool in the effort to end the HIV epidemic by providing the first option to prevent HIV that does not involve taking a daily pill,” said Debra Birnkrant, director of the Division of Antivirals in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in a press statement.
Dr Marianne Mureithi, a HIV/AIDS researcher working with the Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative (Kavi), yesterday December 22 told The EastAfrican that the injectable is a breakthrough that has come right in time.
She explained that clinical trials have shown the long-acting injectable, Apretude (cabotegravir), as a PrEP is more effective at preventing HIV on a population level because it was easier for people to adhere to.
“This is a welcome and much-needed boost for HIV prophylactic prevention. With as few as six shots per year, this highly effective form of PrEP can help bend the curve of the HIV epidemic,” she said.
“It is a fantastic option for many who are looking for an alternative to daily pills for HIV prevention, particularly those who bear a big burden of exposure.”