The World Health Organization has approved the use of a monthly injectable drug as an additional preventive measure against contracting HIV.

The long-acting injection is a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP. It works by preventing HIV from replicating in one’s body.

The first two injections will be administered four weeks apart, followed thereafter by an injection every eight weeks.

“Long-acting cabotegravir is a safe and highly effective HIV prevention tool, but isn’t yet available outside study settings,” Dr Meg Doherty said in a statement.

He added: “We hope these new guidelines will help accelerate country efforts to start to plan and deliver CAB-LA alongside other HIV prevention options, including oral PrEP and the dapivirine vaginal ring.”

Most people at a higher risk of getting HIV are currently on the daily oral PrEP pill. But due to the stigma associated with taking the drug, many fail to adhere to treatment.

CAB-LA was found to be 79% effective in reducing one’s risk of acquiring the virus, compared with oral PrEP.