FDA approves new drug to reduce spread of HIV 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the African American population bears the brunt of HIV cases in America. Though African Americans account for roughly 13 percent of the overall population in the country, as of 2018, Black communities held 42 percent of new HIV diagnoses for that year. To help combat these numbers as well as numbers across many demographics the FDA has approved the first injectable treatment for HIV pre-exposure prevention.  

The HIV epidemic hit hard during the 1980s and early 1990s and has continued to spread. Though little was known about the illness when the first cases were diagnosed, medicine has come a long way in understanding the virus, its effects on the body and ways of prevention.  

Apretude has now been approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration for use in at-risk adults and adolescents to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV. The drug will be administered as follows:  two initiation injections given 30 days apart, then once every two months afterwards. For those fearful of how their bodies will respond to the medication, an oral option, cabotegravir, also known as Vocabria, is available to test the body’s tolerance of the drug. 


In the Black community, HIV is an issue that is rarely discussed. The 2018 data shows 79 percent of new cases for African American men resulted from same-sex intercourse. Black women hold 92 percent of new infections for that year from heterosexual contact. The notion of men who live on the ‘down low’ are the catalyst behind the high rates of new cases for Black women. When compared to other races, African American men still top the numbers with over 9,000 new cases.  


“Science can only take us so far,” said Bruce J. Packett, American Academy of HIV Medicine Executive Director.  “We have the clinical tools in our arsenal for HIV treatment and prevention. This new plan finally begins to put a greater emphasis on the societal barriers that are perpetuating health disparities in our country.  We will never be able to truly end the HIV epidemic until we look outside of the clinic doors. This updated National Strategy takes a big step forward by acknowledging systemic problems such as racism, stigma, health inequities and unjust HIV criminalization laws. We appreciate that the Biden Administration is not shying away from addressing these issues.” 

Other healthcare organizations are praising the approval of the drug to help curb the infection rates in Black and Brown communities.  

“People who are vulnerable to acquiring HIV, especially those in Black and Latinx communities who are disproportionately impacted in the U.S., may want options beyond daily oral pills,” said Deborah Waterhouse, CEO, ViiV Healthcare. “That’s why ViiV Healthcare is proud that Apretude was studied in one of the most diverse and comprehensive HIV prevention trial programs to date, which also included some of the largest numbers of transgender women and Black men who have sex with men ever enrolled in an HIV prevention trial. With Apretude, people can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV with as few as six injections a year. Today’s approval is the latest example of ViiV Healthcare’s commitment to developing long-acting medicines that offer consumers a different choice.” 

The drug requires a medically confirmed negative HIV result before being administered. In order to be considered for the drug, patients must test negative right before the start of the medication.  

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