NICE use of long-acting injectable treatment for HIV-1 infection in adults. photo: iStock

In its first, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recommended the use of long-acting injectable treatment for HIV-1 infection in adults, making around 13,000 people eligible for treatment with cabotegravir with rilpivirine in England.

The new treatment aims to keep the number of virus particles in the blood so low that it cannot be detected or transmitted between people.

Current treatment for HIV‑1 is lifelong antiretroviral tablets taken each day.

Use of cabotegravir with rilpivirine is recommended when there is no evidence to suspect viral resistance, and no previous failure of other anti-HIV-1 medicines.

“Clinical trial results show that cabotegravir with rilpivirine is as effective as oral antiretrovirals at keeping the viral load low,” NICE stated.

Both are administered as two separate injections every two months, after an initial oral (tablet) lead-in period.

Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Assessment at NICE, said: “Despite scientific advances HIV is still incurable, but the virus can be controlled by modern treatment. However, for some people, having to take daily multi-tablet regimens can be difficult because of drug-related side effects.

“We’re pleased therefore to be able to recommend cabotegravir with rilpivirine as a valuable treatment option for people who already have good levels of adherence to daily tablets, but who might prefer an injectable regimen with less frequent dosing.”

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