A recent study published in AIDS Patient Care and STDs sought to investigate the attitudes of women with a history of injection—both medical and substance use—toward long-acting injectable (LAI) HIV therapies.

Currently, most therapies for the treatment and prevention of HIV require taking daily pills, which may cause barriers to adherence for some patients. With the emergence of LAI therapy for HIV, there seems to arise a potential solution for such barriers for patients.

However, there has been little research investigating attitudes to LAI HIV therapies among women with a history of injection. With 258,000 women living with HIV in the United States, this treatment option may help to overcome potential barriers to adherence they may face. However, LAI HIV therapies may not be the best avenue for all women in this population.

In order to investigate women’s attitudes toward LAI HIV therapies further, the researchers interviewed 89 women across 6 different sites throughout the country. The results demonstrated that overall, participants believed that LAIs would improve adherence by ending treatment fatigue and the problems related to needing regular reminders to take a daily pill.

Women with a history of periodic injectable medications, such as birth control injections, said that they would prefer LAI. However, some women with other frequent injections, such as injections for diabetes, noted a desire to limit the number and frequency of injections, making them less open to the potential for LAI HIV therapies.

Among women with a history of injection-based substance use, there were mixed feelings expressed regarding LAI HIV therapies. Some women in this category noted that LAI may be a trigger for them, while others explained that their familiarity with needles would make the injection process easier.

The researchers also explained that LAI HIV therapies should be planned to occur at the same time as any other LAI treatments patients may seek, such as birth control, which would minimize the inconvenience of the clinic visits for the treatment.

"Future research needs to address injection-related concerns, and develop patient-centered approaches to help providers work with their patients to best identify which women could most benefit from LAI use," said study author Morgan Philbin, PhD, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School, in a press release. "As LAI ART for HIV treatment and prevention is scaled-up, systems must be created for women and providers to collaborate in order to best identify which women might need additional support for LAI use and which might be better candidates for daily pills."

REFERENCE
Study examines attitudes toward long-acting injectable HIV therapy among women. New York: Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; January 7, 2021. eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/cums-sea010721.php. Accessed January 11, 2021.