In September 2023, the European Commission authorised Apretude for the treatment of HIV in the European Union (EU). The GSK product has the potential to reduce a patient’s HIV treatment from 365 pills a year to 6 yearly injections. Following on from CREATION’s analysis into the HIV epidemic in South America, the focus now turns to Europe with an exploration of the views of online healthcare professionals (eHCPs) in the continent, regarding the evolving HIV landscape.
eHCPS share the importance of early diagnosis at World AIDS day
Unsurprisingly, World AIDS Day – 01 December – saw the largest volume of eHCP posts in 2023, with 364 eHCPs posting 824 times throughout the day and a further 600 times throughout the rest of the week. Frequent topics of conversation included eHCPs sharing and discussing the importance of early diagnosis as well as the improvements in – and continued need for – effective treatment. The most active European country during World AIDS Day (and in 2023) was the United Kingdom.
During World AIDS day 2023, there was a blend of celebration at how far healthcare had come in the therapy area, as well as encouragement and a call to action for progress to not slow down. The most shared post, on World AIDS Day 2023, from a European eHCP was that of NHS consultant Rageshri Dhairyawan, who shared the 2023 World AIDS Day Report, from UNAIDS, titled LET COMMUNITIES LEAD.
LET COMMUNITIES LEAD.
It’s #WorldAIDSDay2023. “This World AIDS Day is more than a celebration of the achievements of communities; it is a call to action to enable and support communities in their leadership roles” 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 @UNAIDShttps://t.co/Xtvv0LIkLR pic.twitter.com/wOmxwhxiIz
— Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan (@crageshri) December 1, 2023
Decline in HIV transmission but progress slow in women.
@UKHSA’s latest evaluation report in progress towards reducing HIV transmission shows new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men fell by 42% between 2019 and 2022. #WorldAIDSDay https://t.co/lXhOSARBfA
— Kevin Fenton (@ProfKevinFenton) December 1, 2023
eHCPs also drew attention to the need to address issues surrounding gender and HIV. eHCPs shared an article 26 times which highlighted that in 2022, adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24 years) were three times more likely to become infected with HIV than their male peers. While celebrating advancements in HIV therapy, with particular reference to ART, eHCPs did reflect the continued challenge of access to treatment for many people with HIV, especially minority groups. However, within this discussion of treatment there were no mentions of the well established preventative HIV products Truvada and Descovy – which made more than $2 billion in 2022 for Gilead – or the recently approved Apretude.
eHCPs welcome more options and access to HIV prevention
Despite the lack of engagement around the products on World AIDS day, eHCPs in Europe did discuss these three products at various stages throughout the year.
Apretude, maybe somewhat unsurprisingly given it being the new kid on the block, received the highest volume of eHCP posts in 2023. 11 eHCPs posted 13 times about Apretude in September, the month of its EU approval. However, it was not the approval which garnered the most attention from eHCPs but the news in March that the Medicines Patent Pool had signed sublicences with Aurobindo, Cipla and Viatris to produce generic versions of Apretude. This news amassed lots of support from eHCPs who welcomed the news which holds the potential to vastly improve access for patients, to HIV prevention.
— MedicinesPatentPool (@MedsPatentPool) March 30, 2023
While oral #PrEP options are now available in many countries????, access to #cabotegravir long-acting for PrEP ????could significantly contribute to reducing #HIV transmission by providing people a choice in their HIV #prevention options.
— MedicinesPatentPool (@MedsPatentPool) March 30, 2023
eHCPs evaluate the treatment landscape holistically
There was a general sense of positivity among eHCPs regarding the approval of Apretude, with clinical data showcasing a promising future option for patients, as it is just as effective as the current treatment options. One of the benefits cited by eHCPs was that Apretude has been shown to not interfere with gender-affirming hormones and reduce HIV transmission for transgender women.
However, it is worth noting that within the conversation, some eHCPs shared certain concerns with their following regarding the product. This included issues into the cost-effectiveness of the product as well as the potential that ViiV may have overlooked certain aspects of their clinical trials into Apretude. A further post of interest surrounding Apretude came after an Observer investigation showed the majority of NICE drug appraisals from 2021-2023 involved groups financially linked to makers of pharmaceuticals. Doctor of Public Health Will Nutland, related this news to Apretude and raised the question of how many people or organisations, currently involved in NICE consultation on Apretude are taking money from ViiV or their competitors?
— Javier Membrillo (@javimembrillo) April 16, 2023
What’s next for the HIV therapy area?
Looking ahead to 2024, Apretude will be playing a large role in the HIV therapy area and eHCPs are already sharing the potential benefit of the preventative treatment. One of the main benefits frequently cited with Apretude is the administration method, being a long-acting injectable, as opposed to the current daily tablets, Apretude could help improve adherence for patients, which is essential for PrEP efficacy.
With the news that the clinical trial – “To Investigate Safety, Reactogenicity and Immunogenicity of VIR-1388 Compared With Placebo in Participants Without HIV” – for a vaccine against HIV, which has been tipped to shape medicine in 2024, is set to be released, could Apretude’s forecasted potential be challenged?
New PrEP studies coming in 2024 @jmmolinaparis eloquent update at #EACS2023 – monthly pills and more injectibles could really improve adherence which is essential for PrEP efficacy #HIV pic.twitter.com/psGsSvIZ2c
— Prof Yvonne Gilleece (@DrYGilleece) October 19, 2023
Whatever the future holds for HIV it can be assured that eHCPs will be discussing any developments online and CREATION.co will be there to analyse the conversations.
If you would like to find out more about this research or connect with your healthcare professional stakeholders in a meaningful way then do not hesitate to get in touch as we’d love to hear from you and share more examples with you.