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Expert comment - NICE approves first long-acting injectable HIV treatment

An estimated 13,000 people in England could now be eligible for the treatment.
Scanning electron micrograph of an HIV-infected H9 T-cell. Credit: NIAID

NHS watch-dog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), has published guidance recommending the use of the first long-acting injectable treatment for HIV-1. The recommendation of cabotegravir with rilpivirine could provide another treatment option for adults with HIV-1 whose current antiretroviral medicines have kept the virus at a low level and there is no suspected viral resistance and no previous failure of other anti-HIV-1 medicines. 

Reacting to the news, Professor Alison Grant, Dean of the Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “This approval is very exciting, and has the potential to improve access to life-changing treatment for many. Millions of people living with HIV worldwide live normal, healthy lives thanks to modern antiretroviral treatment, usually taking one or a few tablets once a day. It is great news that this will be another option in the range of antiretroviral treatments for people with HIV in the UK, as some people have difficulty taking tablets regularly – perhaps due to challenging circumstances, including the stigma around HIV, or not having secure accommodation and nowhere to store their medication. However, it’s important to note that this is a recommendation from NICE, and there is still much to do before clinics can give these injections to patients; this will take at least several months.”

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