What you need to know:
- Researchers have shown optimism about the performance of injectable antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) that were introduced for clinical trials in the country six months ago
- Currently, most HIV drug regimens consist of three different drugs that need to be taken orally daily,
Researchers have shown optimism about the performance of injectable antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) that were introduced for clinical trials in the country six months ago.
According to researchers, the trial, whose purpose was to determine whether this injection can do as well as the tablets in controlling the HIV virus, so far is satisfactory. The study began in March this year.
“These injected medicines have worked well in previous studies done in the United States, Europe and South Africa, and we had to conduct additional trials here based on the different contexts. So far, we are getting good feedback,” said Prof Rena Shah, an infectious disease expert at the Aga Khan University Hospital who is leading the study.
According to Dr Cissy Kityo, the Executive Director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre, a government-owned medical research institution in Uganda specialising in HIV/AIDS treatment and management, the overall aim of the study was to determine whether switching from daily antiretroviral therapy (ART) pills to injectable long-acting ARVs will not reduce the effectiveness of the drugs.
“The study coordinated at the Joint Clinical Research Centre in Kampala targeted 512 participants, recruited across eight sites from three countries. Kenya had 174 participants,” explained Dr Kityo.
The participants enrolled in this study had to be already stable on their ART and were required to continue with it as a single tablet or fixed-dose combination regimen as per local country guidelines up to the 24 month. Participants were also permitted to switch the drugs in case of toxicity or for treatment optimisation and convenience after viral load testing.
Currently, most HIV drug regimens consist of three different drugs that need to be taken orally daily, which has proven to be cumbersome for many.
“Taking medicine by injection will improve people’s lives because they no longer have to swallow medicines every day. It is also expected to deal with the risk of forgetting to swallow pills and may improve the success of the HIV treatment,” added Dr Kityo.
She said that they are holding talks to have the treatment registered in Kenya, with the initial results of the study set to be released next September.