In the continuing battle to eradicate HIV/AIDS, the Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it had granted approval for the widespread use of a new drug that will suppress the HIV virus in patients.

The drug, Tivicay, is an integrase inhibitor that, according to various clinical trial studies, when used in combination with other antiretroviral meds, suppresses the HIV virus in many patients. Additionally, the drug blocks the replication of HIV cells and prevents infected cells from integrating and destroying T-cells. The drug is manufactured by Viiv Healthcare, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

According to scientists, Tivicay is unique in its treatment of HIV/AIDS, at least in part because it can be used as the third agent in a regular HIV/AIDS drug cocktail treatment plan.

“In many regimens, the differentiating component is the third agent,” said John Pottage, chief medical officer at Viiv Healthcare. “Tivivay provides a focal point for individualized therapy.” He added, “HIV treatment should not be a one-size-fits-all paradigm.”

In a release announcing the approval of Tivicay, experts mentioned that Tivicay when used with abacavir/lamivudine was an effective combination in suppressing the HIV virus in clinical trails. The drug should be available from physicians and local pharmacies in the next several weeks.

In a related matter, the FDA earlier this month approved the first rapid HIV test that can immediately detect HIV antibodies as well as a common protein on the surface of a cell that indicates recent exposure to the HIV virus. According to information from the FDA, the Alere Determine HIV Ag/Ab Combo Assay can diagnose acute (immediate HIV infection) from an established HIV infection. The distinguishing factor between the two is essential information for physicians in establishing an effective and expeditious drug treatment plan.