A NEW HIV drug to make living with the illness easier has been approved.

ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company, has announced that the European Commission has granted marketing authorisation for new drug Dovato.

It was trialled all over the world, including the UK, where it was used in Brighton, Manchester and London.

Duncan Churchill is a clinician and one of nine consultants for the HIV service at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, where the new medicine was tested.

He said: “It’s something that is going to make things a bit easier for treating people with HIV. It’s a combination of two drugs that are already available.

“Since 1996 it is customary to use three drugs, but this is the first of a two-drug treatment that works just as well apparently.

“The advantage is you are sparing people the exposure to extra drugs, expelling that extra long-term toxicity.

“It’s great because about 20 years ago the drugs were really complicated and you had to fit your life around them, but now it’s a lot easier.”

The hospital has the second biggest HIV unit after London.

The clinic is currently treating about 2,400 people with the illness.

But, according to Dr Churchill, the number of new diagnoses has decreased significantly – it has gone halved in the last five years.

He said: “At the moment we are prescribing the drugs that are in the new combination because there is evidence to show they are effective but we haven’t yet got our hands on the singular pill combination – this might be some time later this year.”

The new pill will treat the infection in adults and adolescents above 12 who weigh at least 40 kg.

Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who is HIV positive, said: “This is very welcome news, scientific advancement in my lifetime has meant people living with HIV today can live perfectly normal lives.

“One of the most empowering things in my life since being diagnosed is knowing that I can’t pass on HIV.

“I can say with confidence that effective treatment means I can’t transmit HIV to my sexual partner and I have a perfectly healthy life, which is absolutely transformative.

“These advances in the treatment mean that even concerns about long-term side effects of the drug treatments are being minimised.”

Deborah Waterhouse, chief executive of ViiV, said: “For many years, the standard of care for people living with HIV in Europe has been a three-drug regimen.

“The data from our two-drug regimen development programme challenges this, and with the authorisation of Dovato, people living with HIV can for the first time start treatment on a once-daily, single-pill, two-drug regimen with the knowledge that efficacy is non-inferior to a three-drug regimen whilst containing fewer antiretrovirals.”

There are more than 4,000 new HIV diagnoses in the UK each year.