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'Life-changing': Revolutionary new HIV drug approved for use in the UK

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By Euronews  with AP
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In this March 9, 2021 file photo, Solutions Oriented Addiction Response organizer Brooke Parker holds an HIV testing kit in Charleston, W.Va.
In this March 9, 2021 file photo, Solutions Oriented Addiction Response organizer Brooke Parker holds an HIV testing kit in Charleston, W.Va.   -   Copyright  John Raby / AP

A revolutionary HIV drug that reduces the need for a daily cocktail of drugs to half a dozen injections a year has just been approved in the UK.

For those suffering from the disease, the news of a long-acting treatment is "extraordinary" and "life-changing".

The injectable treatment is a combination of cabotegravir (also called vocabria) with rilpivirine (also called r_ekambys_) and is as effective as oral antiretrovirals at maintaining a low viral load in clinical trials, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Cabotegravir is the result of the FLAIR trial run by Professor Chloe Orkin at Queen Mary University of London. The results were first published in March 2019.

Now more than two years later, its supply has been scaled up and the drug is being made available freely to HIV patients throughout the UK.

Charities have welcomed the move as it offers an alternative to taking daily antiretroviral drugs to suppress the virus.

An estimated 13,000 people will be eligible for the new treatment via the NHS.

The treatment is already being used in parts of Europe, the US, and Canada, with scientists saying it is highly effective.