The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved the first long-acting injectable treatment – for the first time, people living with HIV will now have an alternative to daily tablets. It's estimated that around 13,000 people will now be eligible for the new treatment.
We firmly believe that those who are most in need of the new treatment, such as those who face the most stigma, should be prioritised.
The decision means that people living with HIV in England and Wales who are undetectable will be able to opt for a long-acting injectable treatment which is administered every two months by a healthcare professional instead of daily oral treatment. Being ‘undetectable’ means the virus is at such low levels it is undetectable in the blood as a result of medication.
This approval of this additional treatment option bring the two nations in line with Scotland who approved the treatment for use on NHS Scotland last month.
Debbie Laycock, Head Of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘It’s incredible news for people living with HIV in England and Wales that they will be able to access the first long-acting injectable treatment on the NHS as an additional treatment option.
'We have incredibly effective treatment which means HIV is now a manageable virus, however, it is lifelong so it is important that taking treatment is as easy as possible. HIV unfortunately remains a stigmatised condition.
'Although we’re working hard to tackle the stigma surrounding HIV, this new injectable treatment option could help people in house-shares for example who do not wish to share their HIV status and will no longer have to worry about hiding their medication. Pill fatigue is also an issue for some people living with HIV who struggle with the idea of taking antiretroviral drugs every day.
'Long-acting injectable treatment is also a better option for those who have difficulty swallowing medication. Therefore, the institute’s approval provides a welcome additional treatment option for people living with HIV across England and Wales.
'This is a great step forward as we work towards ending new cases of HIV by 2030. The institute’s decision brings great potential for HIV prevention including long-lasting PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in the future.'