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.
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.
“The combination is paradigm shifting,” says Chloe Orkin, an HIV researcher at Queen Mary University of London, who reported the trial findings on 7 March at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, Washington. “Instead of being reminded that you have HIV 365 days a year, it’s reduced to just 12,” she says. “That gives people a kind of freedom.”