This is the 26th Annual POSITIVELY AWARE HIV Drug Guide. I’m incredibly honored to have served as editor on 18 of these incredible resources for people living with HIV and those who care for them. This HIV Drug Guide has some changes to it that we think you’ll like. For the first time we’ve added HIV PrEP to the HIV Drug Chart that’s in the middle of this issue (we added the PrEP drug pages to the guide itself a few years ago). We’ve included a statement on Paxlovid from our amazing physician for this year’s guide, Dr. Melanie Thompson. Paxlovid is the latest oral medication (under emergency use authorization and not yet approved) to treat mild to moderate COVID for those at highest risk for severe disease. It contains an old HIV drug (Norvir) that has a lot of interactions with other drugs, so see the statement on page 17 for more information.
Treatment and prevention for HIV continues to evolve with long-acting injectable medications now or soon to be on the market. As this issue went to press, Cabenuva, the first long-acting injectable regimen for treatment of HIV, was approved for dosing every other month—that’s six doses a year. Wow! What a long way we’ve come from handfuls of pills two or three times a day with dreadful side effects—some of which weren’t all that effective. I’m grateful to have lived to see the day where this revolution in treatment is now upon us, because this is only the beginning. Monoclonal antibodies, gene-editing technology, mRNA vaccines for HIV, implants, etc.—all of these advances are mind-blowing and moving at a rapid pace, and will result in this guide having to evolve as well. A pill chart may soon become a relic of the past in the not-too-distant future. We’ll have to come up with a lot of new categories, symbols, icons—but it’s all good, and it will be exciting to be a part of the future of the HIV treatment and prevention landscape.
I’m grateful to have lived to see the day where this revolution in treatment is now upon us, because this is only the beginning.
This is where I have to stop and point out once again (I know, I sound like a broken record) that none of it will lead us to the end of the HIV epidemic unless people have access to these new therapies. We have to ensure health equity for our Black and Brown brothers and sisters and for all communities that are disproportionately affected by HIV. Pricing of these drugs cannot continue to grow exponentially by leaps and bounds as the advances in research have—it is just not sustainable, not for our health systems, and not for our pocketbooks. Will these new modes of delivery and novel therapies only be accessible for the privileged few, while the rest of us are left to swallow generic versions of old HIV pills because that’s all our plans will cover or that we can afford? Let’s hope not.
I’m also honored to work with a great team that puts this behemoth together year after year, Enid Vázquez and Rick Guasco. You know I love you guys! We drive each other crazy as we get down to the wire to meet our deadline, but it’s all worth it because of the end result. We do it for all for you, the people who are reading this right now!
Enid wanted to make sure that we gave a special shout out and thank you to all of the scientists and providers who make her sister’s continued life and well-being possible. That goes for all of us living with HIV—we all thank you for making our lives your life’s work. We wouldn’t be here (literally) if it wasn’t for you.
Wherever life leads us, let’s continue to express gratitude to each other and for what each of us brings to the table. I’m grateful for my postal carrier who delivers the mail (almost) every day. I’m grateful for my therapist who encourages me to keep working on getting in touch with my best self (and letting go of the rest). I’m grateful for my coworkers who make me laugh and teach me new things every day (at least when I’m in the office). I’m grateful for family and friends who help me feel connected and keep me grounded. And above all I’m grateful to the universe for providing—always.
Thanks to you, our readers, for subscribing to the magazine, for reading my ramblings, and for joining along with us for this wild ride. Last but not least, we’re grateful to the frontline workers who are doing the work each and every day on behalf of people living with and affected by HIV. Our community has never been stronger, and I’m so grateful to have been welcomed into it with open and loving arms.
Always take care of yourself, and each other.