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HIV: Our Fight is Far from Finished

HIV: Our Fight is Far from Finished

 

“Let’s imagine.”

That’s our starting point when we think about the future of HIV.

As scientists, we ask ourselves: How can we change things for the better? How can we improve the lives of people living with HIV, and how can we protect people at risk of contracting the virus?

Every new therapy or candidate vaccine we move forward is sparked to life by these questions. These questions drive us every day to turn promising new ideas into real-world progress. They also drive us to collaborate with the best and brightest in the scientific community.

For more than 25 years, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson have been working to push back HIV. Our scientists have played a leading role in the development of key HIV therapies that are widely prescribed today. But we will not stop here.

It may seem standard today, but the advent of effective treatments for HIV has been one of the most remarkable achievements of modern medicine. Today, many people with HIV – as long as they have access to a quick diagnosis and quality care – can look forward to a normal lifespan. This is a complete, and very welcome, turnaround from the start of the pandemic in the 1980s.

Janssen has made an important contribution to this medical revolution. Over the past 12 years, we’ve introduced no fewer than eight HIV treatments. And due to their clinical profile, our medicines have been selected as key components of several simplified, single-tablet regimens for HIV developed in partnership with others.

Our goal has been to help patients achieve an undetectable viral load – minimizing HIV levels in the blood. Staying undetectable is key for people with HIV to live long, healthy and productive lives.

Like all of our work in HIV, we’ve only been able to make this happen by fostering a culture of collaboration – both inside our own walls, and beyond. In fact, many of our HIV treatments are the result of important partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies. Fighting HIV is definitely a team effort.

We’re very proud of these advances.

But it’s not enough. So, we need to use our imagination.

Let’s imagine a world where people with HIV don’t have to take tablets every single day.

Janssen is collaborating with ViiV Healthcare to develop the first ‘long-acting’ injectable HIV drug regimen. If successfully developed and approved, this regimen could offer people living with HIV the option to have monthly injections rather than daily tablets. This would simplify HIV therapy, potentially supporting patient adherence and improving quality of life.


3D generated illustration of HIV

Optimizing HIV therapy is critically important. But it’s still not enough.

Let’s imagine a world where people with HIV don’t have to take treatment at all.

Janssen’s ultimate goal for the treatment of HIV is a cure. This could take the form of long-term remission from the infection, or full viral eradication. We’re not losing sight of this, because we don’t want people with HIV to have to take life-long therapy. So, we are conducting early-stage, exploratory research into novel strategies like therapeutic vaccines and immune-based therapies.

Finding a cure for HIV would be a major breakthrough for people living with HIV. And yet, it’s still not enough!

Let’s imagine a world where people don’t become infected with HIV in the first place.

Many experts believe that finding a preventive vaccine will be essential if we are to truly end the HIV pandemic. The search for a vaccine against HIV began the moment the virus was discovered over 30 years ago. But due to the unique properties of the virus – including its global genetic diversity and ability to mutate rapidly – finding an effective vaccine has proved to be highly challenging.

Janssen is committed to meeting this challenge, and again, collaboration is key. With our global partners, we’re leading an effort to develop a preventive vaccine for HIV. Our investigative ‘mosaic’-based vaccine is designed as a ‘global vaccine’ that would prevent a wide range of viral strains around the world that are responsible for the HIV pandemic. The first efficacy study for this vaccine is now getting underway in sub-Saharan African countries. We are still at an early stage of the testing process, but we are optimistic that the world will find an HIV vaccine in our lifetimes.

So, what WOULD be enough?

Let’s imagine a world where we make HIV history for people with HIV, and for people at risk of contracting the virus.

Let’s keep imagining, creating and collaborating.

Together, we can get the job done.