A new type of treatment for HIV is now available in Scotland. Injectable Cabotegravir (Vocabria®) and Rilpivirine (Rekambys®) is suitable as an alternative to taking antiretroviral (ARV) tablets by mouth for some people who are living with HIV.
Injectable therapy will be a good option for some people who have difficulty taking tablets. This might include:
· People who find that taking a pill every day has a significant effect on their mental health and wellbeing (such as those who fear disclosure of their HIV status)
· People who have physical difficulty swallowing tablets
· People who struggle to take tablets every day – even though they have a suppressed viral load.
Injectables are not suitable for everyone. To be eligible to use injectable treatment you must:
· Have an undetectable viral load (less than 40 copies) on blood testing for at least 6 months on your current ARV tablets
· Be able to attend clinic for injections (one in each hip) every 2 months
· Have no resistance to certain ARV tablets (called NNRTIs and INSTI)
You also need to accept that there is a small risk of the injections not working (called virological failure), even if every injection is given correctly and on time. This affects about 1 in every 60 people after 2 years. There are also a few other factors in your medical history that you would need to discuss with your clinic doctor or nurse before considering injectables. You can find out more about BHIVA Guidance on injectables here.
Because injectables are new, and they need extra time in clinic (to get people prepared and started, and for the extra 2-monthly appointments), clinics in Scotland will start with small numbers of patients. Those with the greatest need to switch from ARV tablets will be prioritised. We are working hard to make injectables available to as many people as possible but this will take time, so please bear with us.
If you think that injectables might be an option for you, ask your clinician at your next appointment.