Back in 2020, prior to the event that change the world we knew, I submitted an article to the Mr Gay Pride Australia competition talking about my personal journey and relationship with HIV.
From sharing this through social media platforms, I was astounded to see how many people were still unaware of what it is to be HIV+ today; and more importantly the significance of the term ‘Undetectable’ [+u].
Please note, before proceeding, I am NOT a medical professional, nor am I sales rep for either pharmaceuticals OR earning any remunerations in any way by promoting this product!
Since the dawn of anti-viral treatments in the 80’s when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was at it’s worse, we have seen many forms of antiretroviral drugs come onto the market. (for more information on the history of HIV treatment, you can find more information here.
In recent years, there had been whispers of new medical treatments being developed. Treatments so advanced that it would no longer require the need to take single/multiple tablet/s every day to maintain an undetectable viral load; merely being replaced by a simple injection, administered every so often.
On January 21, 2021, all rumours had been confirmed and made into a reality when the FDA in the U.S approved the use of a new antiretroviral regimen, through the method of two injectables – on the upper, and outer muscle of the buttocks. Cabenuva as it was named, is made up using the integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) cabotegravir (developed by ViiV); and a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) rilpivirine (developed by Janssen). This was soon to be followed by further approvals in several Western Countries, inc; Canada, European Union and most recently here in Australia.
“The complete regimen combines rilpivirine, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) developed by Janssen Sciences Ireland UC, with the integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) cabotegravir, developed by ViiV Healthcare,” said Johnson & Johnson in a statement.
Whilst this new revolutionary treatment had been made aware to medical specialists, to those who partake in the daily treatment, very little information was being made aware to the general public. In Sydney alone, there were very few who had been given the option to receive this revolutionary jab!
My own personal treatment journey started in June, by becoming the first person at Sydney Sexual Health Clinic to take part.
There was an in-depth consultation with the highly trained Specialist Doctor, who then discussed it with their colleagues. This was to make sure I was the correct candidate. Once approved, the process was pretty simple; first changing my oral medication to the 2 x tablets (cabotegravir & rilpivirine) for 30 days – mostly to see if there are any adverse reactions, whilst also monitoring my bloods etc for any noticeable negative changes.
Next was the first appointment where I received 2 x injections in my hip area, followed by another appointment for the same 28 days later. From that point onwards treatments I only need to receive treatment once every 56 days.
FINALLY, what makes this even better is, like all other antiretroviral drugs on the market, it is available on the PBS which makes it accessible and affordable to all.
In conclusion, for anyone who is [+u] and wishes to find out more information on this treatment, please refer to the local HIV health professionals within your area.
Last Updated on Oct 26, 2022
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