MONDAY, July 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Injectable, long-acting antiretroviral therapy for HIV is as safe and effective as oral medications, according to a report published online July 24 in The Lancet to coincide with the biennial conference of the International AIDS Society, held from July 23 to 26 in Paris.
In the first 20 weeks of this phase 2 trial, researchers gave 309 treatment-naive HIV patients daily oral doses of the antiretroviral drugs cabotegravir and abacavir-lamivudine. Following this phase, 286 were randomly assigned to the maintenance period which included injections of cabotegravir plus rilpivirine every four or eight weeks, or to daily oral drugs (115 to each of the four-week and eight-week groups and 56 to the oral treatment group).
The investigators found that after 32 weeks, HIV remained suppressed in 91 percent of those taking the drugs orally, 94 percent of those receiving monthly injections, and 95 percent of patients receiving injections every two months. At 96 weeks, viral suppression was maintained in 84 percent of patients taking oral medication, 87 percent of those receiving monthly injections, and 94 percent of those receiving injections every other month. The most common side effect was pain at the site of the injection. Most reactions were mild or moderate and lasted an average of three days. Other side effects included nasopharyngitis, diarrhea, and headache, which were similar in all three groups.
“The two-drug combination of all-injectable, long-acting cabotegravir plus rilpivirine every four weeks or every eight weeks was as effective as daily three-drug oral therapy at maintaining HIV-1 viral suppression through 96 weeks and was well accepted and tolerated,” the authors write.
The study was funded by ViiV Healthcare and Janssen R&D.
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