Fighting AIDS and other Infectious Diseases

Medicines in Development Fighting Infectious Diseases

12.12.13 | By Preet Bilinski

Recently the 26th Anniversary of World AIDS Day was celebrated, along with the remarkable progress that has been made against this disease. New infections are down by over 30 percent worldwide and nearly 10 million people in poor countries – who were not receiving treatment a decade ago - are now receiving the medicines they need, according to a global UNAIDS report. The discovery and development of new treatments have turned HIV infection from a death sentence into a chronic disease for those who have access to medicines. In the U.S. alone, death rates have fallen more than 80 percent since 1995 as a result of the development and introduction of multiple drugs used in innovative combinations, known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

Today, infectious diseases like AIDS are causing fewer deaths and illnesses worldwide than they did twenty years ago. Yet critical challenges remain,  particularly as bacteria and viruses develop resistance to current medicines and emerging infectious diseases are identified. Responding to this need, America’s biopharmaceutical research companies have 394 new medicines and vaccines in the pipeline to fight infectious diseases. Among them includes a therapeutic vaccine for HIV infection intended to delay disease progression, a medicine for the most common and difficult-to-treat form of hepatitis C and a potential new antibiotic to treat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Antibacterials are one of the most important tools we have to combat life-threatening bacterial diseases. However, antibacterial resistance is becoming an increasingly common problem, resulting in over 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths each year among Americans and costing $55 billion in the United States annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  This issue has been a concern for years and is considered one of the world’s most critical public health threats.

Scientists have made huge strides against infectious diseases, which until the 1920s were the leading cause of death in the United States. According to data from the CDC, 10 infectious diseases have been at least 90 percent eradicated in the United States as a result of vaccines. Today, HIV/AIDS is perhaps the best example of the incredible progress combatting infectious diseases. 

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