Ontario Adds Promising New HIV Treatment To Drug Benefit Program

September 02, 2019
by John Kelly, MD
Ontario Adds Promising New HIV Treatment To Drug Benefit Program

Ontario has opened up avenues to a new HIV treatment as the rates of HIV diagnosis continues to climb. With its Ontario Drug Benefit Program, HIV-infected individuals can now use the one-pill-a-day drug Biktarvy.

The drug has nearly no side effects for most individuals and can quickly reduce HIV viral load to non-detectable levels, ensuring the virus isn’t likely to spread.

Maple Leaf Medical Clinical Director Dr. Jason Brunetta was the key researchers during the clinical trials for Biktavry, and he said the community’s goal is to bring the viral load of every HIV positive individual down to non-detectable levels. The hospital is located in Toronto.

Ontario reported that 39 percent of people are HIV positive, making it the highest in Canada. Based on 2017 data, Toronto is regarded as having the highest new diagnosis rates and numbers. From 2014 to 2017, there was a rise in the number of cases. In 2017, there were over 900 new cases.

There was a 12 percent increase in the number of new HIV diagnosis from 2013 to 2017. In 2013, the rate of infection was 5.8 percent per 100,000 people. The percentage was to 6.5 percent per 100,000 for the 2017 year.

Brunetta said it’s a huge deal to offer the new drug on the benefit plan. He said other HIV drugs failed to pass the formula area the government covers.

Since Biktarvy has very little side effects, patients must stay on the medication for a longer period.

Brunetta said patients are unlikely to continue medication that makes them sick. And, if a patient misses taking a pill, the virus can overtake it. He said with more access to the better drug, it would change their lives completely.

Previous single-day HIV medications made people extremely sick.

Daniel, who’s been using HIV treatments that caused him to get sick, has been using Biktarvy for a year and has had no side effects.

The 50-something-year-old said he loves Biktarvy.

The drug is also ideal for older HIV patients to stay on the treatment without worrying about co-risk factors like bone, cardiac, liver and renal.

According to CATIE medical editor Sean Hosein, Biktarvy is the kind of treatment that allows people to live a healthier life. He said HIV is a chronic disease, and the drug will help them to have better health. And, since the drug is listed under the drug plan, the news is big for HIV-infected individuals and society as a whole.


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