Long-acting HIV therapy gets PBS tick

2 minute read

An injection every two months, instead of a daily pill, will likely improve quality of life for people living with the chronic disease. 

The first long-acting treatment for HIV has been listed on the PBS, freeing eligible patients from the burden of daily oral treatment. 

From April 1, the government will fund the long-acting antiretroviral therapy, cabotegravir and rilpivirine (Cabenuva, ViiV Healthcare), for adults who have suppressed viral loads (HIV-1 RNA <50 copies per mL). 

“The introduction of a long-acting injectable treatment means that eligible people living with HIV will only need to be treated every two months, rather than every day,” Dr David Baker from East Sydney Doctors, said in a statement. “This approach has the potential to help lessen the burden of treatment and reduce the worry and stigma that comes with having to take treatments daily.” 

The S100 medication is contraindicated in patients with a known hypersensitivity cabotegravir or rilpivirine, or in combination with certain anticonvulsants, antimycobacterials, glucocorticoids or St John’s wort. 

After a two-month lead-in period, patients will receive an intramuscular injection of a 3mL dose every two months. Clinicians are advised to administer separate cabotegravir and rilpivirine injections to different gluteal injection sites during the same visit. 

Government funding for the treatment followed data from 1100 patients in 16 countries that found HIV control was no worse among those taking the injection, compared to patients on the daily therapy.   

Injection site reactions were the most common, occurring in 76% of participants, followed by headache and pyrexia in 7% of participants.  

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