The Advancements in HIV Treatment
HIV is still a threat, even though advancements in HIV treatments can better help those who are infected. HIV outbreaks have been reported in groups that are already marginalized and stigmatized. With new tools preventing infection and reducing transmission, we have come a long way and continue to eradicate HIV.
But with these advances, there has also come a wave of misinformation about how people can contract the virus or get tested for it. So we want to outline some critical information about these treatments, when getting tested is necessary, and how people can learn more about their status.
PrEP and PEP Drugs
One of the main treatments for HIV includes antiretroviral medications. These medications suppress the virus and slow its progression in the body. However, be aware that these drugs do not eliminate it from your system, but they can often make the virus undetectable in many cases. These drugs could add healthy and productive years to someone’s life. They can also reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
The drugs fall into two broad categories: PrEP and PEP. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are pills taken by those who do not have HIV but want to proactively protect themselves in case of exposure. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a type of treatment that helps to prevent the contraction of HIV after exposure. You should use it within 72 hours after exposure for approximately one month.
As of 2019, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendations to include PrEP for people without HIV who are at increased risk of contracting the virus. Though first recommended as a PEP treatment for HIV, AZT is now more commonly used by HIV-positive pregnant people than HIV-positive adults. Check out this Healthline article for a list of FDA-approved PEP medications.
As 2020 came to a close, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to ViiV Healthcare’s long-acting cabotegravir, one of the two drugs in HIV treatment candidate Cabenuva, for prevention against new infections.
It is a new HIV treatment candidate that could be an effective prevention method for those living with the virus. The drug has shown an ability to effectively prevent HIV infection and do so without any side effects or toxicities compared with Truvada.
Truvada is already on the market for people looking to take care of themselves by taking this pill daily. This study regarding cabotegravir halted early because interim analysis indicated effectiveness!
Though a complete vaccine for HIV continues to be one of the harder ones to develop, researchers and scientists are still pushing forward and trying.
For example, the team behind the mosaic vaccine expects to see the first results of its second phase trial this year. In July of last year, all 2,400 patients were fully vaccinated, with no adverse reactions reported so far.
Coverage for HIV Prevention
While not a treatment in the strictest sense of the term, it’s encouraging to find out that many insurance companies are now beginning to offer coverage for HIV medications.
Gilead’s Truvada and Descovy, as well as Teva’s newly available generic version of Truvada, will be covered by private insurance. Coverage of PrEP drugs, which reduce the risk of acquiring HIV by more than 90%, will likely have significant implications for many people at risk of contracting the virus.
This coverage is, in large part, thanks to the fact that the U.S Preventive Services Task Force updated its recommendations. And to be clear, it is beginning to offer full coverage. Traditionally, even those with insurance were still likely to pay around $1,000 for treatment.
We hope you found our blog post informative. If you want to get tested — we encourage you to do so for your peace of mind and so that you can make informed decisions — and require more information, we invite you to visit us. Our team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you in your quest for HIV prevention, with a plan that is tailored just for your needs! Which of these HIV preventative measures has been most effective on your journey? Let us know by contacting us today.