Currently, there is no alternative; taking multiple pills orally is the only way for an HIV patient to keep their viral load in check. Those newly diagnosed, and the naïve that continue to put off the inevitable, face a decision about when to start their toxic clock – then to begin taking pills for the rest of their lives (one, two, three, four and sometimes more pills each day). Others wait until their viral load is so high and white blood cells so dangerously low before they start their regimen, which can be toxic at times and must be taken at the same time every day —– forever.
The only alternative product currently in FDA trials, PRO 140, is nearly non-toxic without any side effects. Once approved by the FDA, HIVers will need only one simple sub-coetaneous dose a week.
Future studies could allow patients to take PRO 140 once every two weeks or maybe once a month.
Quite a difference from multiple pills a day!
There are about 350,000 patients very much in need of PRO 140.
No HIVer can stop taking their oral pills right now, not even for 30 days. At some point, they can develop a resistance to their current pill regimen if they don’t take them at the exact time every day. Patients in a recent extension trial of PRO 140 have reached one year with a suppressed viral load. This means, if their viral load never comes back – and if their viral load is at zero – then PRO 140 could be considered a “Functional Cure.”
More HIV naivete often extends to the impact upon their family. It is unlikely a sibling or parent will “catch” HIV from the patient, yet they are certainly afflicted with the emotional stress which can lead to dysfunction. Referencing their sexuality, the infidelity involved, and/or intravenous drug use often leads to arguments, sadness, despair and depression. There remain many misunderstandings as to how one gets infected, how viral loads are controlled, and what future the HIVers can expect.
One stress reliever is to take a recommended drug holiday. When PRO 140 is part of the dosage regimen, the HIVer could go on a trip without having to take anything for 7 days at a time. Caregivers and patient alike get a well-deserved break.
When PRO 140 is FDA approved, CytoDyn expects to bring it to market in 2017.