Realizing the promise of long-acting antiretroviral treatment strategies for individuals with HIV and adherence challenges: an illustrative case series

Christin Kilcrease, Hasiya Yusuf, Joan Park, Aaron Powell, Leon James Rn, Jacob Oates Rn, Brittany Davis Lmsw, Ethel D. Weld, Kelly Elise Dooley, Renata Sanders, Allison L. Agwu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART) remains the cornerstone of optimal HIV outcomes, including viral suppression (VS), immune recovery, and decreased transmission risk. For many people with HIV (PWH), particularly those with early-acquired HIV, structural, behavioral, and cognitive barriers to adherence and competing priorities related to life events may be difficult to overcome, resulting in nonadherence. Long-acting injectable antiretroviral therapies (LAI-ART) may be a useful strategy to overcome some of these barriers. However, to date, the approved LAI-ART strategies (e.g., cabotegravir and rilpivirine (CAB/RPV)) have targeted those who have already attained viral suppression, precluding their use in the 40% of adolescents and young adults (AYA) that VS has eluded. Case presentation: Ms. X is a 30-year-old woman with perinatally-acquired HIV and barriers to adherence. Despite many interventions, she remained persistently viremic, with resultant immune suppression and multiple comorbid opportunistic conditions, and viral load (VL) > 10,000,000 copies/ml. Given her longstanding history of poor adherence to an oral regimen, a switch to monthly intramuscular (IM) injections and biweekly infusions of ibalizumab were initiated leading to decreased viral load to 8,110 copies/ml within two weeks. Ms. H is a 33-year-old woman with cognitive limitations due to childhood lead poisoning. Her viral load trajectory took a downward turn, precipitated by various life events, remaining elevated despite intensive case management. Initiation of LAI-ART (CAB/RPV) in this patient led to an undetectable VL (< 20 copies/ml) within two months of treatment initiation. Miss Y. is a 37-year-old woman with perinatally-acquired HIV and chronic challenges with nonadherence and longstanding immunosuppression with CD4 < 200 cells/mm3 for > 5 years. She received a 1-month oral lead-in (OLI) of cabotegravir/rilpivirine, followed by the injectable loading dose. She has since adhered to all her monthly dosing appointments, sustained VS, and transitioned to a bi-monthly injection schedule. Conclusion: These three individuals with HIV (perinatally and non-perinatally acquired) with longstanding nonadherence and persistent viremia were successfully initiated on LAI-ART through the process of care coordination and the collective efforts of the care team, highlighting the barriers, challenges, and the multidisciplinary coordination needed to assure successful implementation of this strategy for the most vulnerable of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number56
JournalAIDS research and therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Care coordination
  • Injectable antiretroviral
  • Long-acting
  • Nonadherence
  • Outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Virology


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