HIV treatment is life-long, and it is essential that HIV drugs (ART) are taken on time, every time. This is called adherence. If adherence is poor, then resistance to the HIV drugs can develop, and the treatment can fail, leading to illness or ultimately even death. Some people find it hard to take their HIV drugs every day. So research is underway to develop long-lasting antiretrovirals that don’t require daily dosing.

The present study involved 309 people who were starting HIV treatment for the first time. They were all treated with cabotegravir plus abacavir/lamivudine. They took these drugs by mouth daily, until their viral load was undetectable. They were then split into two groups – one group continued to take the HIV drugs by mouth every day; the other group received the HIV drugs by injection, given every 4 weeks, or every 8 weeks.

Both groups were equally successful in keeping the viral load undetectable for the 32 weeks of the study, showing that long-term injections might be a useful of maintaining viral load suppression. However, there were some side-effects of the long-lasting treatment. This was mostly injection site reaction – some swelling and/or pain where the injection was given. Some people receiving the injectables also reported flu-like symptoms, though this seemed to get less over time.

This study will now continue until the participents have been on the new injectables for 96 weeks, to see if this approach could be used for a long period of time.

Full details can be read here.