As HIV medications with once-monthly (or even once-quarterly) dosing work their way through the development pipeline, the buzz increases about their potential to increase rates of adherence, virologic suppression and global treatment access while decreasing overall health care costs. The importance of answering questions about this potential was noted by START symposium panelists Deborah Birx, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and Gottfried Hirnschall, M.D., the director of the HIV department of the World Health Organization.
Unfortunately, when it comes to long-acting antiretrovirals, there is still far more that we don't know than we do know. Even the most advanced agent currently in development still has years of research ahead of it, and one agent does not make for a fully active regimen -- though, as recent research suggests, it may work as a maintenance regimen among people with an already-suppressed viral load.