HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In a big breakthrough in the fight to prevent the spread of HIV, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first prevention option that does not involve taking daily medication.
FDA approved Apretude for use in at-risk adults for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV. Thrive Alabama says the new injection will help high-risk individuals and provide another option for prevention.
“Anyone who has unprotected sex with someone who they do not know their status is at risk for HIV,” says Thrive Alabama CEO Mary Elizabeth Marr.
Mary Elizabeth Marr says Thrive Alabama started over 30 years ago as a local organization to take care of people living with HIV/AIDS.
“When I started 27 years ago, we really were just helping people be comfortable when they were dying,” recalls Marr.
Marr says thankfully, a lot has changed in the fight against the virus.
“The great thing is that there are new tools being developed all the time to keep HIV at bay,” says Marr.
Up until now, the only drugs on the market to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV were pills.
“We have been helping people with HIV prevention by taking a pill once a day, it was Truvada and then Descovy,” says Marr.
Marr says a daily pill is not always a realistic option. Pills can be easy to forget, or easy to use inconsistently.
Thrive Alabama believes the FDA approval of the injectable drug Apretude will help with adherence for prevention.
“They will be able to get an injection in the office every two months so it’s gone from once a day to one injectable every two months six times a year plus labs, getting lab tests done,” says Marr.
Marr says the problem is, the injectable, while maybe more convenient… will likely be more expensive. With HIV affecting different demographics, experts are optimistic this new prevention method will act as a weapon in the country’s battle with HIV.