Today marks World AIDS Day, a moment to reflect on the significant advances made in the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The incredible scientific progress biopharmaceutical companies have made in the last 30 years has led to an 88 percent decline in the HIV/AIDS death rate since peaking in the 1990s and an 18 percent decline in annual HIV infections from 2008-2014.
These medical advances are not only increasing the average life expectancy of people with HIV, but allowing them to achieve the same life expectancy as someone living without HIV. A study from the Antiretroviral Therapy Cohort Collaboration (ART-CC) found that HIV patients in Europe and North America treated with a combination of three or more antiretroviral therapy (ART) medicines can achieve the same life expectancy of people without HIV. ART-CC estimates that a 20-year-old patient who began treatment with ART between 2008 and 2010 could now live to age 78 – the same life expectancy for the general U.S. population. What’s more, today patients have newfound ways of preventing transmission of HIV in the first place with PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).
There is also now global consensus that, as a result of the efficacy of ART, patients who take medication daily as Dr. Anthony Fuaci stated, “and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.”
Advances in HIV/AIDS research and development are benefitting patients like Eric who was diagnosed with HIV at the age of just 25. Eric is an example of how modern medicine from researchers like Brian is revolutionizing patients’ quality of life.
The hope of an AIDS-free generation is within reach but there’s still more to be done.
Biopharmaceutical companies are working tirelessly to provide new treatments, preventative medicines and, ultimately, a cure for HIV. According to a 2017 Medicines in Development Report for HIV, there are 52 medicines and vaccines for HIV currently in development, either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Among the medicines, are 32 antiretrovirals and antivirals, 16 vaccines and four cell therapies.
Andrew Powaleny is Senior Director of Public Affairs at PhRMA and leads the organizations scientific communications. Before joining PhRMA in 2015, he worked in public affairs for a small firm in Washington, DC and served as Deputy Press Secretary for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Andrew came to Washington, D.C. via Connecticut with a degree from Eastern Connecticut State University where he majored in public policy and government. Andrew is active as a runner and volunteer with the DC Front Runners; most recently serving on its Board of Directors for three years as co-race director. He is also a member of the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and mentors students through his alumni association with The Fund for American Studies. Andrew is passionate about scientific innovation, especially for mental illness, and his heroes are the men and women of America’s biopharmaceutical research companies.