Modern medicine and years of research have led to major changes for people living with or at risk of being exposed to HIV. HIV medications have developed to decrease a person’s viral load so they can live healthy lives and prevent transmission to others. Thanks to HIV prevention medication, the number of new HIV diagnoses per year has decreased by over 30% since 2010.
The FDA first approved HIV prevention medication known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in 2012 with the medication called Truvada. This pill medication is prescribed to both cisgender and transgender men and women to lower their risk of HIV transmission. This medicine proved to be up to 99% effective at reducing a person’s risk of transmission after exposure.
Another medication, Descovy, was approved in 2019 primarily for lowering the risk of HIV transmission through receptive anal sex. Currently, this medication is only approved for cisgender males and transgender females.
But a promising new HIV injection for prevention was just recently approved by the FDA in December of 2021. This HIV prevention shot is called Apretude – and here’s everything you need to know about it.
Apretude is the First Injectable HIV Prevention Method
Apretude is a viable alternative to HIV prevention medication as it’s provided through an injection, just like a vaccination shot. It is approved for all genders and both adults and adolescents weighing at least 77 lbs (35 kgs).
An HIV test is administered first before anyone can receive a prescription for PrEP or an HIV prevention injection. This can be done at the doctor’s office or a health clinic to ensure that you are HIV negative before receiving any treatment, including Apretude.
Apretude is administered by a doctor with a follow-up injection 4 weeks later. After this, an injection is given every 8 weeks to continually lower the person’s risk of HIV transmission. This can be far more manageable for people with limited schedules or difficulty with daily medication.
This news is fantastic, as people in younger age groups are still at a high risk of HIV infections. While the number of new HIV diagnoses for young people between the ages of 13 to 19 is lower than other ages, it is still significant. Younger people who are at-risk can benefit greatly from an HIV prevention shot versus a daily medication.
Apretude is Highly Effective
One valid concern many have about this new HIV prevention shot is whether it is as effective as other forms of PrEP. The great news is that scientific research has shown that Apretude is equally as effective as Truvada and Descovy – and in some cases, even more protective. Apretude was also determined to provide better protection for cisgender women, who cannot be prescribed certain types of PrEP medication.
It is important to understand that the HIV prevention shot has similar side effects as other forms of PrEP. During the drug trial, the most common side effects reported included:
- Injection site reactions, including skin rashes
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Back and abdominal pain
Similar to other HIV prevention medications, Apretude may cause allergic reactions, liver damage, or depressive disorders. You should always consult with your doctor regarding these side effects and alert them if any occur after your injection.
Who Benefits the Most from Apretude?
Anyone at risk of HIV transmission can benefit greatly from any form of prevention – whether it be a medication, injection, or lifestyle change. This includes anyone sexually active with a partner (or partners) whose HIV status is unknown. The risk of HIV transmission is notable higher for gay or bisexual men, sex workers, and transgender females. However, anyone who is sexually active can be at risk.
HIV may also be transmitted through the use of infected needles, as this can transfer HIV-infected blood. Sharing needles for injectable drug use, tattoos, needles, or other uses should be avoided at all costs.
Thankfully, Apretude can be beneficial as an HIV prevention method for anyone who meets the criteria. Apart from adopting HIV prevention behaviors like using condoms and avoiding shared needles, the only method for PrEP was an oral medication. While this treatment is quite effective, some downsides have held people back from taking PrEP consistently.
First, there was the issue of the cost of the medication. Without insurance, this medication can be quite costly. Further, people needed to physically pick up prescriptions which can be difficult for some with mobility or transportation limitations. Finally, human error of forgetting to take a daily dose can also impact the effectiveness of the medication.
Apretude is a viable alternative for anyone who has used PrEP in the past but had trouble accessing regular prescription refills or sticking to a consistent regiment. It is also beneficial for people with limited access to healthcare and medication.
It also shows great promise to help people at risk of HIV transmission in countries where regular medical care is not readily available. HIV transmission rates are significantly higher in countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Providing injections over prescription medication can help to protect more people.
You need to consult your doctor to see if Apretude or other forms of HIV prevention medication is right for you. Apretude is currently available at most health clinics and doctor’s offices and may be covered by health insurance.
Want to Learn More?
The HIV injection treatment Apretude could be a game-changer in helping to end HIV transmission across the world. If you are at risk of HIV transmission and want to learn more about prevention options like Apretude or other forms of PrEP, connect with us at SIDE by SIDE!
We can provide you with further resources and get you in touch with local organizations like testing sites and support groups. Reach out to us online to get the conversation started!