Malta’s HIV Treatment Is About To Be Updated For First Time In Decades

New treatment could prove a boon for Malta's HIV sufferers

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The Genito Urinary clinic at Mater Dei Photo: DOI 

The Maltese government has committed itself to upgrading HIV treatment within the next year, in what will be the first upgrade since antiretroviral therapy was discovered in 1996.

This announcement was made in Budget 2018 and comes as the US-based Centre for Disease Control declared HIV-positive people taking effective medication cannot transmit the virus through sex.

The Budget includes a commitment to upgrade Malta’s anti-HIV therapy, currently limited to the so-called “triple therapy” which involves the administration of three or more drugs. Although effective, the treatment is problematic because of its significant side-effects, such as diarrhea, nausea and even psychotic effects.

“The side-effects disrupt people’s lives and patients often choose to stop the treatment and become contagious again simply to be able to function in their everyday lives,” LGBT rights activist Russell Sammut told Lovin Malta. “Malta hasn’t updated its HIV treatment in the past 25 years, but a new treatment is now available in the form of a single pill, administered daily, which is just as effective as the original remedy but without the side effects.”

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The daily single dose pill for HIV patients could be available in Malta as of next year

Lovin Malta has asked the government to specify which drugs it will add to its formulary next year and whether it will make the single dose/tablet variant available.

Recorded HIV infections in Malta have been increasing by around 20% a year since 2009, and the Malta Gay Rights Movement and the Allied Rainbows Communities last year warned HIV infections will continue to rise unless the government replaces the “outdated” antiretroviral treatment.

“Unless concrete and effective measures to interrupt this trend are introduced the number of those living with HIV will potentially increase to 2,000 people requiring treatment within the next five years, at significant cost to Malta’s healthcare system,” they said. 

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Two days ago, the Centre for Disease Control declared that HIV-positive people on effective medication do not risk infecting their sexual partners.

 "Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed," they said.

Do you have information you would like to share about HIV treatment in Malta? Let us know on [email protected]

READ NEXT: HIV In Malta – A Snapshot

Written By

Tim Diacono

Tim Diacono tends to clam up when asked to describe himself. You can contact him on [email protected]

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