Health & Science

New HIV injectable treatments are now available at Legacy Community Health in Houston

Legacy Community Health will offer Cabenuva and Apretude at two locations across the city.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
The Legacy Clinic in Montrose is among two Legacy locations in Houston offering the new injectable HIV treatments. Taken on Feb. 15, 2022.

Updated with correction, 4:53 p.m. CT

Legacy Community Health will now offer two new injectable HIV treatments.

The two treatments have different goals — Cabenuva works as an HIV treatment for adults, and Apretude is a prevention medication for adolescents and adults at risk of sexually acquiring HIV. The treatments were approved by the FDA last year, with Apretude receiving approval this past December.

Ruston Taylor, Senior Director of Pharmacy Clinical Services & Outreach at Legacy Community Health, said these treatments will help raise the HIV suppression rate in Harris County, which was at 57% in 2019, according to America's HIV Epidemic Analysis Dashboard.

"An injectable like Cabenuva should help raise the suppression rate in Harris County," Taylor said. "Apretude works on the other end of the fight, helping to prevent transmission to those who are HIV negative."

The new treatment options will be alternatives to the more common HIV medication — a daily pill called PrEP.

Maggie White, nurse practitioner at Wellness Bar by Legacy, said that patients who might find it difficult to keep up with the pill will also see benefits in getting the shots.

"These drugs are a game-changer for folks who forget to take a daily pill, and people with gastrointestinal issues who have trouble with oral medications," White said. "It will even help eliminate the unfortunate stigma around having a bottle of medication to treat HIV visible on the bathroom counter."

HIV patients will be able to find treatment in two locations: Legacy Montrose and Wellness Bar by Legacy. Legacy joins two other Houston-area clinics — Thomas Street Health Center and Avenue 360 — that have already begun offering the injectables shortly after receiving FDA approval.

White said the goal for the treatment locations is to make the process as discrete and laid-back as possible for patients.

"We provide a wellness service," White said. "It doesn't feel like a doctor's office or infectious disease clinic."

Legacy currently accepts Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and most HMOs or PPOs. They will also have eligibility specialists available to discuss potential programs to help lower the cost of treatment services.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that Legacy Community Health was the first clinic in Houston to offer the new HIV injectable treatments.