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Leading provider for HIV treatment introduces monthly injectable medication to treat HIV

BUFFALO, NY—Today, healthcare organization Evergreen Health debuted Cabenuva (Cabotegravir and Rilpivirine), an HIV-1 treatment regimen approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2021 and trialed by Evergreen’s own physician, Dr. Alyssa Shon. Dr. Shon is also a physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“We are excited to introduce a monthly injectable medication to treat HIV, the very first of its kind and a method for treatment that eliminates the need for patients to take daily pills, which has been the standard for HIV care for decades,” said Alyssa Shon, MD, provider at Evergreen Health. “This is the first complete regimen involving long-acting injectable medications and it revolutionizes the way we treat HIV.”

Dr. Shon participated in three trials for Cabenuva: the LATTE trial, to determine effectiveness of the oral dose of Cabotegravir; the ATLAS trial, the main trial that led to FDA approval of Cabenuva; and the POLAR trial, a rollover trial for LATTE trial patients, who have already transitioned from the 28-day oral lead-in to bi-monthly injectable medication. The last two trials, ATLAS and POLAR, are currently underway at Evergreen and have been approved by the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.

Cabenuva is currently approved as a complete regimen for adults living with the HIV-1 infection who are virally suppressed (undetectable), to replace their current antiretroviral regimens. After taking an oral lead-in for 28 days in the form of a pill, patients are able to forgo daily pills typically prescribed as part of HIV treatment, in favor of two long-acting intramuscular injections administered once each month.

According to 2019 data, it was estimated that there were 3,400 people living with HIV/AIDS within the eight counties of Western New York. Of those individuals, 2,929 knew their diagnosis. Evergreen Health cares for 1,593 patients living with HIV/AIDS (as of 2020).

The goal of all HIV treatment is to bring patients to an undetectable viral load. This means there is very little HIV found in the body, which reduces the impact HIV has on your system and eliminates the possibility of transmitting the virus to others.

As a result of treatment, patients living with HIV/AIDS across New York State experienced a 69% viral suppression rate (2019). At Evergreen, there is a 89% viral suppression rate (2020), with 69% of patients undetectable. From the first data of diagnosis, 83% of linkage to HIV care occurs within 30 days (2019). At Evergreen, 100% of linkage to HIV care occurs within 14 days or less (2020) – with 56% of patients linked the same day as diagnosis, also known as rapid treatment.

Cabenuva is an ideal treatment option for anyone experiencing pill fatigue, stigma of taking HIV medication, or those who are compliant with medical visits but non-adherent to taking medications after their appointments.

“I am proud that Dr. Shon, a member of the UB Division of Infectious Diseases, was an investigator in the LATTE, ATLAS, and POLAR trials. Clinical studies such as these enable physicians to provide ever-improving care for patients in Western New York,” said Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “The availability of Cabenuva at Evergreen Health enables selected individuals to receive the most recent and a significant advance in HIV care.”

Evergreen Health is committed to providing HIV education and prevention services to the Buffalo, Jamestown and Western New York (WNY) community. Evergreen offers HIV testing and treatment and is the leading provider for the HIV prevention drug PrEP in WNY. PrEP, also known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a prescription that includes the drugs Descovy and Truvada. When taken daily, PrEP greatly reduces the risk of becoming HIV positive.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a treatable chronic health condition, and with treatment, people living with HIV can lead healthy lives. HIV is a virus that passes from person to person through sexual contact or contact with HIV-positive blood. If left untreated HIV can lead to AIDS. The virus attacks a specific type of immune system cell in the body, known as the CD4 cell or the T-cell. HIV destroys these cells, making it harder for the body to fight off other infections.

The debut of Cabenuva at Evergreen follows recent and significant announcements for the organization:

Evergreen Health fosters healthy communities by providing medical, supportive and behavioral services to individuals and families in Western New York – especially those who are living with chronic illness or who are underserved by the healthcare system.