Rwandan health experts will begin the first phase of the clinical trial of HIV injection drugs known as “cabotegravir + rilpivirine”, targeting a sample group of volunteers living with HIV.
According to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director-General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), unlike the daily antiretroviral (ARV) HIV drugs pill taken by HIV patients, the injection lasts eight weeks.
This is one of the scientific advances in the field of HIV, as well as strategies to end AIDS, that are on the agenda of the twentieth International Conference on AIDS Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa (ICASA). The conference is set to take place in Kigali from 1 to 7 December 2019.
Details about the drug are yet to be made public, but Nsanzimana said that “different sessions will be held, including a specific session on the trial of the eight-week injection, among others. We look forward to Rwanda gaining more from it.”
Latest estimates by UNAIDS indicate that a person living with HIV has a similar life expectancy to an HIV-negative person, provided they are diagnosed in good time, have good access to medical care, and are able to adhere to their HIV treatment.
Health experts noted that the clinical management of injectables was more complex than with daily pills.
This is because patients need to begin with oral drugs, then switch to injectables, a process which needs to be actively managed, it said.
In addition, injectables cannot be discontinued quickly in the event of adverse reaction.
Moreover, cabotegravir persists in the body for a long time after discontinuation, potentially creating problems in relation to drug resistance, experts stated.