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+TALK

+TALK: DR. ANU SESHADRI

Karl sits with our favorite Dr., Anu Seshadri about the first ever injectable HIV prevention drug.

The following is a transcript of the conversation between Karl and Dr. Anu Seshadri.

KARL

We are talking about the new injectable HIV drug. Next.

Welcome to +TALK on Plus Life, where we’re all about turning positive into a plus. I’m very excited today. I have a guest who is actually in studio, in-person, it is none other than our favorite doctor, Dr. Anu Seshadri. Hello Doc, we could almost touch each other.

ANU

I know, we’re maintaining that six foot distance.

KARL

We are and Gus is in the studio as well, if you hear little feet, that’s the dog, ’cause why wouldn’t he be? So good to see you, lots to talk about as always. But I want to start today, on this new injectable HIV treatment that is out there. I’ve seen a lot of TV commercials. So now, I guess I can get an injection, instead of taking a daily pill. Tell me about the new drug.

ANU

Yeah, isn’t it exciting? We actually have more options as far as treatment wise. So the injectable is a combination of two different medications. It’s intended to be used for treatment. Initially, what’s been approved is to use it for treatment for those that already have an undetectable viral load. So your viral load is less than 50 copies per ml.

KARL

In other words, won’t show up in a typical test.

ANU

Exactly.

KARL

Got it.

ANU

And it’s, you go into the doctor’s office, you have to go into the doctor’s office, once every two months and it’s two shots.

KARL

So two needles, not one?

ANU

No, so it’s one shot of each medication.

KARL

In the tuchus?

ANU

In the buttocks, yes.

KARL

In the buttocks, you see now that’s interesting, ’cause I’m afraid of needles. So that’s a red flag for me personally, but what is a red flag for me, could very well be a green flag for people who don’t like taking tablets everyday.

ANU

Yeah, if you don’t want to take 365 pills, and would rather get away with 12 injections per year, this is your opportunity to do so.

KARL

So do we know how effective the injectable is compared to how effective the pills are?

ANU

Well, I can’t really compare it to any other drug regimen that’s out there, but the studies that have been conducted do show that the efficacy, the effectiveness, Karl, is pretty much the same. I would say that, you know, it’s all about how good you are, just like you are with taking the pills, how good you are as far as taking the, going into the doctor’s office every two months to actually get the injections as well. The only drawback that I have to say is that, you know, prior to starting the injections, you do need to be on the oral pills. So there’s the injectable form and then the oral form of the injectables that you need to be on for at least one month.

KARL

So I got to take the pill version, see how I go on that. And if I’m going okay, then I can progress to,

ANU

Not everybody’s gonna tolerate the side effects. Then there’s different medications that present with different side effects.

KARL

Well, and just like, you know, I take a certain HIV medicine. Somebody else might take it. We all sort of, they’re tailored really to best fight the virus, right?

ANU

And that’s part of it, is to monitor, you know, what the side effects are and monitor your accounts prior to just jumping to the injectable treatment.

KARL

And I think it’s interesting. Look, I’m one of those people. I don’t, I actually, I take my pill every morning. I’m afraid. I said at the top, I’m afraid of needles. You know this about me. I don’t like them. So maybe the pill thing is the best thing for me for now, but there is a thing called pill fatigue. And there is certainly studies have shown that for some people taking a daily pill is also a daily reminder that they’re living with HIV. So this is a great alternative for people like that.

ANU

I think it’s wonderful. It’s just a different option. That’s what it is. And if you don’t like the injectables, you can always just switch over to going back to taking the oral pills. I mean, we’ve seen this even with other instances, like me as a woman, taking an oral contraceptive pill every day can be annoying and fatiguing. And if you forget to take it one day, then you have to double up the next day. Or if you forget for two days, then you have to reach out to your doctor. And another option to birth control is taking the depo shot. That’s once every three months, there’s side effects to taking the depo shot as well. But it just depends on your preferences on how your body reacts to it. But I’m really excited about this, it is such, it’s a different option.

KARL

Again, options, which means progress. That being said, so this is a newer medicine. This is a newer thing we’re taking. Is there an advantage health-wise to, you know, an injection or two shots every month over taking tablet, one a day is, do you know what I’m saying? Is it better for our bodies to get one shot or a daily thing?

ANU

I think that as far as the studies show, it’s probably, as far as what we know right now, obviously we need to do a lot more studies when we have a lot more people that have gotten the injectables, but it’s pretty comparable.

KARL

Okay. Do you think this is something, like obviously now we’re using it for people like myself living with HIV. Is this some, is prep going in this direction as well?

ANU

Yes, and so I’m very excited about that too. The only difference that I would have to say with PReP is, and it worries me as well, is this idea of drug resistance. So you’re taking something to prevent getting HIV. And so if you’re taking it on a daily basis, or let’s say once every two months, right. It’s one out of the two. So with the injectable for prep, I have to just clarify this, it’s one out of the two injections that we just talked about for treatment,

KARL

Okay.

ANU

But that one drug is actually a long acting drug. So that’s the only fear is, when you’re taking this one drug every two months, then if by any chance you do get HIV, then this drug may be rendered ineffective for treatment.

KARL

Ineffective And is there, just sort of still weighing my options here, as I said, because this injectable is newer. Does that mean that it’s better than my BIKTARVY or whatever my treatment might be in pill form.

ANU

It does not mean that you’re better because every treatment is regimented to your specific needs, your specific HIV strains that you carry, your specific side-effect profile. So it doesn’t mean that it’s better, it’s just another alternative option.

KARL

Options, options, options. I love it. Dr. Anu Seshadri, thank you so much for coming by and so nice to see you in person.

ANU

I know it’s so good to see you.

KARL

We get to have this conversation in person. Thank you, thank you, really exciting news, developments and as we both said, progress, and progress is a good thing. That is going to do it for this episode of +Talk. If you want more information, check out the website, pluslifemedia.com or follow us across our social media platforms. We are at pluslifemedia. Until next time, take care, take care of yourself, wash your hands, wear a mask, do all the right things. And most importantly, just be nice to each other.

ANU

And Happy Holidays.

KARL

And Happy Holidays.

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