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Virus Globe

WHO Updates Guidance on Long-Acting HIV Prophylaxis

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The World Health Organization (WHO) now recommends prescribing long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA) as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for patients at high risk of contracting the virus.

“Long-acting cabotegravir is a safe and highly effective HIV prevention tool, but isn’t yet available outside study settings,” said Meg Doherty, MD, PhD, director of WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis, and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes. “We hope these new guidelines will help accelerate country efforts to start to plan and deliver CAB-LA alongside other HIV prevention options, including oral PrEP and the dapivirine vaginal ring.”

Physicians should administer CAB-LA in two doses, delivered four weeks apart. Every eight weeks thereafter, provide another injection. The results of earlier studies indicated CAB-LA could lead to a 79% relative risk reduction vs. oral PrEP.

WHO released these recommendations ahead of the 24th Annual AIDS Conference (AIDS 2022), taking place this year in Montreal from July 27 to Aug. 2. In related news, WHO announced there were 1.5 million new HIV infections and 650,000 HIV-related deaths in 2021.

“We need urgent action now and a full recommitment to our goals,” Doherty said. “New infections and HIV-related deaths are simply unacceptable and preventable. While we have all of the tools that we need to end AIDS, there are 10 million people who have not yet started treatment, and the gap in HIV treatment coverage between children and adults is increasing rather than narrowing.”

In a positive development, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center presented data at AIDS 2022 regarding new insights into HIV latent cells, which could open the door to possible cure solutions.

“The study reinforces recent interest among scientists in improving upon HIV cure strategies that are based on latency reversal by incorporating drugs that relieve blocks at multiple HIV lifecycle steps, and by combining these with agents that potentiate physiologic cell death,” NIAID explained in a news release.

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention and Infectious Disease Alert.