Aga Khan University Hospital Injects HIV+ Patient with Antiretroviral Medication

First patient in Kenya to be injected with antiretroviral medication

For one to receive the injectable ARVs, the patient must already be virologically suppressed, with no history of treatment failure, and with no known or suspected resistance to either cabotegravir or rilpivirine

By The Weekly Vision Online

The Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi injected the first patient in Kenya with antiretroviral medication after being enrolled in a study being conducted at the institution. 

This is a collaborative study involving eight sites in Africa including Aga Khan University Hospital. The same trial is being carried out in other sites in Kenya as well as in Uganda and South Africa.

An expert in the field Mr Jakababa Achiel Kende says that the conditions one has to meet to receive the injectable ARVs is that patients must already be virologically suppressed, with no history of treatment failure, and with no known or suspected resistance to either cabotegravir or rilpivirine. He adds that before initiating treatment of Cabenuva, oral dosing of cabotegravir and rilpivirine should be administered for approximately one month to assess the tolerability of each therapy,” he says that in the US, the new injectable will cost Ksh. 400,000 ($3,960) a month, or more than (Ksh. 4.8 million) $47,500 a year

The hospital says that “successful treatment of HIV leads to control of viral multiplication; the success relies on people taking their drugs regularly. The way someone takes their drugs may depend on several factors that include the number of drugs taken, the ease of swallowing them, the number of times they are taken, their taste, as well as the associated side effects among other factors,” said Prof Rena Shah, an infectious disease expert at the hospital who is leading the study. Currently, most HIV drug regimens consist of 3 different drugs that need to be taken orally daily.

“This study is looking at using a different way of taking the HIV medicine; using injections of two medicines given once every two months. These injected medicines have worked well in previous studies done in the USA, Europe and South Africa but have not yet been evaluated in the rest of Africa,” added Prof Reena.

It is thought that 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.

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