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Everything to know about Apretude, the injectable PrEP

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It is estimated that 1.2 million people in the United States have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can advance into AIDS. However, science has made remarkable medical advancements, and there are now several HIV medications available for both mitigating the virus and preventing transmission. 

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is medicine taken to prevent getting HIV, and the growth of HIV has slowed down since their introduction. PrEP is a medication that must be taken before exposure to HIV, and when taken as directed it is up to 99% effective at preventing transmission through sexual intercourse

There are two pills approved for daily use as PrEP: Truvada and Descovy. Alternatively, a long-acting injectable form of PrEP has also been approved by the FDA: Apretude. This article will cover everything you need to know about Apretude including how it works, its side effects, and if it’s right for you.

How Does Apretude Work?

Apretude is a type of drug called an antiretroviral, and more specifically it is a type of antiretroviral called an integrase strand inhibitor. This means that it works by blocking the action of integrase, which is one of the enzymes that HIV uses to make new copies of itself. Therefore, if you are exposed to HIV and have Apretude in your system, the medication can stop the virus from multiplying in the body and causing HIV. 

Apretude is the first injectable HIV treatment approved by the FDA, in December 2021. It is initially administered through two doses one month apart. After that, injections are given every 8 weeks (or, once every two months). 

It’s a long-acting injection that’s administered into the muscle of the buttock. The drug is slowly absorbed over a 2-month, producing a steady level of the drug in the bloodstream.

How Effective is Apretude?

Two major clinical trials showed that injectable cabotegravir (brand name, Apretude) provided superior protection against HIV infection when compared to TDF/FTC (the pill form of PrEP known as Truvada). 

Who Should Take Apretude?

Apretude is currently approved for adults and adolescents (weighing at least 77 lbs or 35 kg) who are at-risk for HIV exposure. It is primarily recommended for people who are sexually active with partners whose HIV status is unknown. 

Men who have sex with men have a higher risk of HIV transmission, as do women and transgender women who have sex with men. People who share intravenous needles for drug use are also at risk and therefore could be good candidates for Apretude. 

Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any new medication. They can help you decide whether Apretude, or any PrEP treatment is the right option for you. Before you can take Apretude, you will need to be tested for HIV because PrEP is only given to prevent transmission before exposure. 

What Are The Side Effects of Apretude?

While Apretude has been approved by the FDA as a medication that’s safe to use by patients who qualify, it does have some side effects. The most common include:

  • Injection site reactions, like rash or discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Abdominal/Stomach Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Upper respiratory infections

It should be noted that only 1% of clinical trial participants cited these negative reactions, and most reported very mild effects. 

The Benefits of Apretude

In addition to preventing the transmission of HIV, Apretude presents a potentially more appealing PrEP option than daily pills because, in the latter case, if doses are missed then it can reduce the effectiveness of the drug. In contrast, a single injectable dose every two months could be more manageable and reduce the risk of forgetting a dose. 

Conclusion

Apretude is an excellent and effective PrEP treatment option to prevent the transmission of HIV. Apretude is not available in generic form, it is only available in its brand name form. Also, Apretude should be used as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy that includes adherence to its administration schedule and safer sex practices like condom use and regular STI tests to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. If you think Apretude may be a good option for you, talk to your healthcare provider about it. You can also visit their website to learn more. 

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