Advocates welcome new once-a-day HIV pill available on PBS
HIV experts and advocates have welcomed the availability of a new once-a-day HIV treatment on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
STRIBILD is the first in a new generation of HIV treatments combining three medicines and one boosting agent into a single pill available for the cost of one script, making it accessible and affordable to patients.
It follows ATRIPLA and EVIPLERA introduced in 2010 and 2012 respectively.
Experts say the availability of a convenient, cost-effective treatment may encourage those living with HIV to seek early treatment.
“Starting HIV treatment early can have important benefits for the health of people with HIV,” Professor Andrew Carr, Director of the HIV Unit at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, said.
“For newly diagnosed patients, starting a lifetime of treatment can be daunting.
“Having a once daily pill that is effective, easy to take and with few side effects will give patients more encouragement to start and stay on treatment.”
Studies have shown that people starting treatment early and reducing their viral loads to negligible levels may significantly reduce their risk of transmitting the virus.
Bill Whittaker, spokesperson for the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) believes this can have positive psychological benefits for people living with HIV.
“HIV treatment can potentially help free people with HIV from a huge burden of guilt, blame and anxiety about possibly infecting others,” Whittaker said.
“There are many good HIV treatment options available and doctors and their patients are looking for treatments that are easy to take, well tolerated, potent and convenient.
“STRIBILD has these features and is therefore a welcome additional HIV treatment choice.
“Furthermore, the single tablet formulation means patients only have to pay a single co-payment for their script.”
STRIBILD will be available on the PBS from May 1.
Caution: as with all anti-retroviral medications, STRIBILD can have serious side effects. Talk to your medical practitioner before deciding if this medication is right for you.