Over forty years since the discovery of HIV/AIDS, many have anxiously waited for new advancements in healthcare technology that could help alleviate, if not eradicate these infectious diseases. From medications like AZT in the 1990s, PrEP in the 2000s, a new generation of medicine is making its way into the forefront of healthcare to help prevent infection and treat those living with HIV/AIDS.
One of the latest advancements to come in 2022 has been the introduction of Apretude (also known clinically as Cabotegravir). Apretude, is a bi-monthly injectable PrEP option (such as Descovy or Truvada), that takes away the stress of having to take a pill daily, along with the frantic notions of forgetting.
“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,” Dr. Debra Birnkrant, the director of antivirals division at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement via NBC News.
“This injection, given every two months, will be critical to addressing the HIV epidemic in the U.S., including helping high-risk individuals and certain groups where adherence to daily medication has been a major challenge or not a realistic option.”
With regards to the pill form of PrEP, it can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by as much as 99 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (though noted by the CDC that it is much less effective when it is not taken as prescribed).
The injectable drug, Apretude, is given first as two injections one month apart and then once every two months. It was approved for use in “at-risk” adults and adolescents weighing at least 77 pounds. Recipients are required to test negative for HIV before starting the drug and before each injection “to reduce the risk of developing drug resistance,” the FDA said via The Washington Post.
“People who are vulnerable to acquiring HIV, especially those in Black and Latinx communities who are disproportionately impacted in the US, may want options beyond daily oral pills…Apretude was studied in one of the most diverse and comprehensive HIV prevention trial programs to date, which also included some of the largest numbers of transgender women and Black men who have sex with men ever enrolled in an HIV prevention trial”, stated Deborah Waterhouse, ViiV Healthcare’s CEO.
In 2020, about one in four of the 1.2 million people for whom PrEP is recommended were prescribed it. The CDC estimates that as of 2019, there were approximately 285,000 people using PrEP, many of them gay and bisexual men.
For anyone that is on the go, Apretude brings newfound freedom for preventative care that allows you to be in control of how and when you take your medicine.