World AIDS Day 2021: How Far We’ve Come, and Yet to Go
In the more than 40 years since the global HIV epidemic began, the world has made significant progress against the virus. Major strides have been taken in developing treatment and prevention options and providing access to these life-changing medicines and health technologies across the globe.
As a life-long researcher and medical professional who has dedicated a majority of his career to working on HIV, I know first-hand how crucial it is to provide care for people living with and at risk for HIV infection, and the tragic effects of a disease that science has not yet caught up with. As a clinician in the 1990s, I watched dozens of patients pass away each year from HIV/AIDS. This experience, and the people that I had the honor to know and treat, are a major reason why I have dedicated much of my career to helping identify new, lifesaving treatments.
Expanding Treatment Options
Janssen began its work to identify anti-HIV compounds in 1985. Since then, we’ve helped to develop nine HIV medicines for people living with HIV. Compared to first-generation HIV treatments, which were complex and involved many pills per day, newer single-tablet combination antiretrovirals have helped to dramatically simplify treatment and improve tolerability, contributing to making HIV a manageable chronic condition.
In fact, with the treatments available today, people with HIV who are diagnosed in a timely manner can look forward to a normal lifespan and a healthy lifestyle.
This is amazing progress, but our work doesn’t stop here. With 37.7 million people worldwide living with HIV, we remain fully committed to addressing the unmet need for improved HIV treatments, including by exploring the potential of long-acting injectable therapies that have the potential to reduce the number of treatments people need to take each year.1
Stopping Transmission in its Tracks
While HIV treatment continues its journey of transformation, the ultimate goal is to prevent transmission and stop HIV in its tracks.
Janssen is actively working to develop and support the development of new, innovative prevention methods. Significant progress has been made, but the search for the ‘Holy Grail’ – a preventive HIV vaccine – has proved elusive. HIV is a unique and complex virus that has long posed unprecedented challenges when it comes to vaccine development. The lack of natural human recovery to the virus combined with HIV’s ability to attack, hijack, and evade the immune system have made it difficult to create an effective vaccine. We remain committed to continuing our efforts to identify an effective HIV vaccine despite the challenges. Our current large-scale efficacy clinical trial evaluating a vaccine candidate is being pursued across eight countries in Europe and the Americas.
We Cannot Stop
Despite this progress, there is still more innovation, collaboration and persistence that is needed to bring a global end to this global epidemic. Though the HIV community has made significant progress in making HIV medicines more accessible, the reality is that the advances of the past decades have not reached everyone. More than 9 million people around the world living with HIV are not accessing antiretroviral therapy – an inequity that must be resolved if we are ever to relegate HIV to the history books.1
Janssen’s Commitment to HIV
We couldn’t have made it to the point we are at today without the tireless work of countless academics and researchers around the world, trial site workers, the HIV community, advocacy groups, policymakers and most importantly those who have participated in numerous clinical trials. Their dedication, passion, and expertise are what make all this possible.
Our commitment has not wavered, and we remain dedicated to ushering in new advancements in prevention and therapy for the HIV community. Together, we’re helping to build a world without HIV and we won't stop until we make HIV history.
December 1, 2021
1 UNAIDS. GLOBAL HIV STATISTICS – Fact Sheet 2021. June 2021. https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/UNAIDS_FactSheet_en.pdf. Last accessed November 2021.