“Patients deserve more than just viral suppression,” said Harmony Garges, MD, chief medical officer of ViiV Healthcare.
Today, 40 years into the HIV epidemic, we have effective treatments for viral suppression. Harmony Garges, MD, chief medical officer of ViiV Healthcare, emphasized the next step is providing patients with treatment options. “We’re really starting to focus on quality of life,” she said.
At the 30th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2023), ViiV Healthcare shared data from their SOLAR study. The study examined the efficacy of long-acting Cabenuva (cabotegravir plus rilpivirine) versus standard-of-care.
Cabenuva is the first long-acting injectable HIV treatment regimen to come to market, and Garges says having this option is vital. “We know one size doesn’t fit all,” she explained, “Every person is different, they’re unique.”
SOLAR evaluated treatment satisfaction in a cohort of persons living with HIV who had been on Biktarvy for at least 2.5 years and achieved viral suppression. A survey study at baseline revealed that almost half of patients reported a psychological burden associated with their daily oral HIV medication.
“To me, the really important part of that is we have to go beyond just having a conversation around viral suppression with our patients and really try to understand how they’re feeling about their medications,” said Garges.
Long-acting injectables are typically administered every 2 months, as opposed to the traditional daily oral pill. Garges explains that while this still allows patients to check in regularly with their health care provider, “They’re not having that constant daily reminder that they’re living with HIV…They can live their life, they can be spontaneous.”
Garges delineated SOLAR’s findings that in the patients who chose to transition, “treatment satisfaction improved with the long-acting injectable over the oral daily regimen, and, importantly, 90% of people preferred being on a long-acting.”
The key takeaways from the SOLAR study are not only the noninferiority of long-acting HIV treatment, but also the unmet need of psychological stressors in people living with HIV.
“Yes, of course we have to get people tested, on their therapies, and virally suppressed,” said Garges. “But you know what? Patients deserve more than just viral suppression.”