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Injectable Treatment: One Service User’s Experience

Read one service user’s experience of moving from antiretroviral therapy to injectable treatment for HIV.


In April, a Waverley Care service user – who has chosen to remain anonymous – become one of the first people in Edinburgh to take injectable treatment for HIV. We interviewed him about his experience, how the treatment compares to taking daily tablets, and if he would recommend it to others. For more information about injectable treatment, visit our support and advice page on HIV

When did you first hear about injectable treatment? 
Before the pandemic, I attended Waverley Care’s monthly under 30s group. At one of the meetings, Robert – a Health Improvement Coordinator with Waverley Care – mentioned that the treatment was being made available in Scotland. We didn’t think they’d come around so quickly though!  

How did you access injectable treatment? 
Three months ago, Robert said that a trial of injectable treatment for HIV was starting in Edinburgh. I talked to my specialist who told me that I was eligible for the trial. I was relieved, because I’ve taken daily medication for the last 14 years and I wanted to get off them. 

Tell me about the injections themselves? What happened at the appointment? 
So far, I’ve had two treatments. At my first appointment, I was given the injections by the nurse. Before the injection, they took some bloodwork and some measurements on each side to work out where to inject. I was given one injection in each hip, and then waited in the clinic for an hour to make sure I didn’t react badly. 

I went again four weeks later for my second appointment and again got my bloodwork and injections. I had to wait around afterwards again. My next appointment will be 8 weeks after I went last time. 

Did you have any side effects? 
It was sore at the injection site for a few hours, and for a three to four days after I had a dead leg. I made the mistake of going to football practise immediately after my first injection – bad idea! It’s definitely best to rest, though you do have to keep moving after the injections. 

How did the experience compare to taking daily medication? 
Mentally, swapping to injectable treatment has done me a lot of good. It’s much easier – I’m not thinking about the medication all the time, about ordering it and carrying it about. It’s easier to travel too. I had been a bit worried about the effectiveness, if they’d work as well as my tablets, but I have stayed undetectable since moving over which has relieved these fears.  

I have had a few issues though. I took other medications along with my antiretrovirals and I’ve started to forget to take them now that my nightly routine has gone. Also, getting to the clinic before it closes at 5pm has sometimes been a struggle. I have a busy job and it can be stressful to get there on time. 

Do you recommend injectable treatment? 
Definitely. If you can manage a bit of pain, and can get yourself to the clinic, it is worth doing. 


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