Awakening Africa Magazine


Curing The Incurable – A New Weapon in The Fight Against HIV

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Meet the infamous HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the culprit behind the global AIDS epidemic. This global epidemic erupted in the 1980s, and HIV has taken countless many lives since then. Fortunately, we are now closing in on this virus. And this article is all about that, all about our new weapon in the anti-HIV arsenal!

Brief History of HIV Treatments

Okay, so it’s time for a quick recap of our decades-long fight against HIV. 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’m sure you’re already familiar with this saying. But, given the context, it doesn’t feel relevant, right?  Well, back in the 1960s, researchers developed a drug called zidovudine to fight cancer. Also known as Azidothymidine (AZT), the drug was a total disappointment — but only in the case of cancer!  Fast forward to the 1980s, HIV is wreaking havoc. And guess what? The failure, AZT, in the time of crisis, became the first FDA-approved drug to treat HIV

HIV treatments have come a long way since then. Allow me to introduce the latest so far.

The Revolutionary Treatment | Cabenuva

Cabenuva is an FDA-approved injectable combo of two drugs, Cabotegravir and Rilpivirine. The first of its kind, the long-acting regimen, is a result of the coordination between two pharmaceutical companies: ViiV Healthcare Limited and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Between the two components of the drug, cabotegravir is manufactured by ViiV Healthcare, while rilpivirine belongs to Janssen Pharmaceuticals. This drug, administered by giving an intramuscular shot in the buttocks, is all set to replace the current antiretroviral treatment taken by virologically suppressed individuals.  Also, it’s a complete treatment regimen, which means that it’s the sole, standalone medication for HIV — not needed to be taken with other HIV treatments. 

Significance Of Cabenuva

So, enough of the technical jargon. What does it all even mean? What has it got to do with the future of HIV treatment? To truly understand its significance, take a look at the quantitative data. Prior to Cabenuva treatment, there was a 365 days administration of antiretroviral drugs. Cabenuva has brought that year-long drug administration down to just 12 days a year. See it from the perspective of an infected person. Taking the medications daily is a constant reminder of their condition. Every day, they relive the trauma of discovering it for the first time, which can be really agonizing. Now, Cabenuva is here to ease their agony and help them return to their normal lives — at least for a month.

Limitations of Cabenuva

Remember the term I used earlier? Virologically suppressed? Well, it means that the treatment’s efficacy is limited to individuals with a viral load of fewer than 50 copies per mL. Furthermore, before being injected with Cabenuva, the patients will be given the tablet form of the component drugs for 30 days to assess the tolerability.

A scientific breakthrough

The development of Cabenuva is a major scientific breakthrough. And as I said earlier, we are now closing in on HIV faster than ever before!

Lastly, I would like to point out that Cabenuva is NOT a cure. Sure, it suppresses the virus, but it cannot entirely eliminate it.  It can be thought of as an innovation in our ways of treatment, a rather significant innovation!

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