Today’s draft guidance is the first time NICE has made recommendations about the use of an HIV treatment since these came under NICE’s remit in 2019.  It is estimated that around 13,000 people will now be eligible for treatment with cabotegravir with rilpivirine in England.

Current treatment for HIV‑1 is lifelong antiretroviral tablets taken each day. The aim is to keep the number of virus particles in the blood (the viral load) so low that it cannot be detected or transmitted between people.

“The Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust HIV team welcomes the publication of the draft NICE appraisal for cabotegravir with rilpivirine which is injectable medication for treating HIV. We look forward to being able to offer this significant innovation in HIV treatment to our patients in our services in Liverpool and across Cheshire and Merseyside once it is fully approved in 2022. 

People living with HIV currently need to take need daily tablets to keep their HIV viral load undetectable. For people living with HIV, having an undetectable viral load helps to protect their health, gives them a normal life expectancy, and means that they can’t pass on HIV through having sex. For those of our patients who are eligible for the new medication, they will be able to have an injection every two months and won’t need to take daily tablets.

Due to our ongoing involvement in the clinical research trials for this injectable medication, our workforce already has the training and experience to allow us to implement this new medication without delay once it is approved. We are very grateful to the patients who take part in our extensive research programme, which allows us to develop new ways to improve the health of all our patients.

2021 marks 40 years since the first cases of HIV were reported and it is fantastic that so much progress has been made in the treatment options available for our patients. It’s very important that we all know our HIV status so that we can access medication for HIV if needed. Free, confidential HIV testing is available at our friendly clinics in Liverpool and across Cheshire and Merseyside or via our postal testing service at www.axess.clinic.”

“NICE has approved injectable HIV medication in a draft document but don’t plan to give final national approval until early 2022. The injectable medication is likely to be in high demand and we will therefore implement a local roll out based on patient need. You can discuss the injection with your doctor in your next routine appointment when we will hopefully have more information. It is very important to continue to take your current medication in the meantime, as currently it looks like patients with a detectable viral load will not be eligible for the injections.”