Yesterday, June 5, was the 30th anniversary of the first time a medical journal mentioned patients suffering from the disease that we now know as HIV/AIDS.
On one hand, it's hard to believe the disease has been around us for so long. For many, it seems like yesterday that we started to hear a growing din about this terrifying, then-untreatable disease.
But at the same time, it's incredible to think about how much has been done. Biopharmaceutical research is a painstaking field, one in which an average new medicine can take 10 to 15 years to be developed and brought to patients.
In that context, look at what has happened in 30 years. The disease has been identified, studied, and is now well understood. We have not one or two, but 30 medicines approved to treat it.
And those medicines are accomplishing so very much. University of Chicago economists have calculated that each new patient with HIV now lives 15 years longer than they would have in the 1980s. Death rates continue to drop: from 1999 to 2008, death rates fell by 5 percent per year. Between 2008 and 2009, they fell by another 9 percent. Hospitalizations have dropped, which means patients are staying healthier overall and avoiding costly hospital bills. Medicines have become easier to use, adding to their effectiveness and helping patients enjoy their lives more.
And, perhaps most importantly, we have found that use of modern HIV medicines helps to prevent transmission - two separate studies found a reduction in transmission rates of more than 90 percent.
Come back to The Catalyst often this week to learn from researchers, patient advocates, and others from here at PhRMA. We're proud of the work that our companies have done. When early AIDS patients needed medicines, biopharmaceutical research companies stepped up to help. So this week, we'll celebrate their successes, we'll celebrate life, and we'll look forward to how we can continue this progress in the future.