In the United States, more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV and 15.8 percent of those are unaware they are infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, multiple medical advancements have taken place since 1981, when the CDC identified the first five cases of HIV/AIDS. Since anti-retroviral treatments (ART) were approved in 1995, HIV/AIDS-related deaths in the United States have dropped by 83 percent, resulting in a 32 percent decline in HIV/AIDS-related hospitalizations, improving overall care and reducing the cost burden. According to a University ofChicago study, HIV/AIDS patients today live 15 years longer than in the 1980s.
“Over the past 35 years, HIV/AIDS has gone from a death sentence to a chronic, manageable disease thanks in large part to advances in biopharmaceutical research,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “Despite the progress that has been made, researchers are continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS and, with more than 40 medicines in the pipeline, there is more hope than ever that a cure can be achieved.”
Currently, biopharmaceutical companies are focused on improved treatment regimens, more effective therapies and preventive vaccines that are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The 44 medicines and vaccines in the development pipeline include 25 antivirals, 16 vaccines and three cell/gene therapies. Examples include:
- A first-in-class medicine intended to prevent HIV from breaking through the cell membrane.
- A cell therapy that modifies a patient’s own cells in an attempt to make them resistant to HIV.
- A therapeutic vaccine designed to induce responses from T cells that play a role in immune protection against viral infections.