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Fighting HIV/AIDS

1.1 million Americans are living with HIV

Biopharmaceutical Company Researchers Are Developing More Than 40 Medicines and Vaccines For HIV Infection Treatment and Prevention

Globally, approximately 35 million people are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, new infections have dropped by 38 percent since 2001, according to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

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). Although the U.S. HIV/AIDS-related death rate has fallen by more than 80 percent since the introduction of antiretroviral therapies in 1995, new HIV infections have stabilized at approximately 50,000 each year, according to the CDC.

Since AIDS was first reported in 1981, nearly 40 medicines have been approved to treat HIV infection in the United States. Although those medicines have made HIV infection a manageable chronic disease and helped to prolong the lives of infected patients, opportunities for even greater progress remain.

The development of new, innovative therapies would not be possible without the patients who volunteer to participate in clinical trials. Currently, there are 94 active clinical trials for HIV infection medicines and vaccines in the United States. Of those, 43 have not yet started recruiting patients or have just begun to seek volunteers to participate; the other 51 are ongoing but not recruiting new patients.

Researching and developing new medicines remains a risky investment and a lengthy process. On average, it costs $2.6 billion and takes between 10–15 years to bring a new medicine to patients. Despite the risks, America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are continuing their efforts to develop novel and more effective treatments, vaccines to prevent HIV infection, and potentially a cure.

44 New Medicines in Development

Biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 44 medicines and vaccines for HIV infection, focusing on improved treatment regimens, more effective therapies, and preventative vaccines. These medicines and vaccines are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

View the 2014 Medicines in Development Report

Progress in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Over the last two decades, research advances have transformed treatment for many patients infected with HIV. In that time, HIV/AIDS has moved from an acute, fatal illness to a chronic disease, managed by effective treatment regimens. In the United States, death rates have fallen by more than 80 percent since 1995 as a result of the development and introduction of multiple drugs used in innovative combinations, known as antiretroviral therapy (ART).

For HIV/AIDS, the introduction of novel therapies and continuous research into their best use in patients has revealed value beyond what was known at the time of approval by the FDA. This value has been realized over time as new treatments build on one another and real world knowledge is accumulated. Additional post-approval value for HIV/AIDS therapies include use in combination with other therapeutics, treatment earlier in the disease state, and use to prevent HIV transmission in certain situations.

View the Innovation Hub Timeline of Treatment Advances for HIV/AIDS. 


Decline in Death Rate

Since HIV/AIDS was first recognized in 1981, advances in medicines have helped lower the death rate by 83%. Prior to 1995, when the first antiretroviral treatment was approved by the FDA, an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Now, thanks to medicines developed by biopharmaceutical scientists and their research partners, it is a chronic condition with manageable costs and patients are able to reach nearly a full life expectancy. View the difference between HIV/AIDS then versus now.

Learn More About Progress in the Fight

Treatment Advances Transform HIV/AIDS

When the first cases of AIDS were reported, the illness was mysterious and terrifying. Once diagnosed, patients often had only months to live. Health care providers were helpless to save them. Contrast that with today. A young person diagnosed today can manage the disease and have a normal life expectancy if properly treated. And, remarkably, this progress continues with death rates dropping every year.

Learn more about these tremendous advances against HIV/AIDS throughout the years.

View the Timeline


Premature Deaths Avoided

In the decades following the introduction of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) for HIV/AIDS, we’ve seen tremendous progress against this devastating disease. Death rates have dropped by close to 85%, and continue to decline as a result of these transformative medicines. But what would the world look like had HAART and the other medical innovations that built on HAART never been discovered?

A recent report from Truven Health Analytics tackles this question; researchers developed a statistical model that examines what the world would have looked like had innovation stopped prior to the development of HAART and the import advances that followed.

Get the Facts

Medicines in the Pipeline

New, groundbreaking treatments are in development or have been developed to treat HIV/AIDS infection. Scroll to learn more about some of these innovative treatments, and how they have provided new hope for HIV/AIDS patients in the United States and globally.

Learn More

Related Medicines

  • Antiretroviral Treatments and Ensuing Innovations

    Antiretroviral treatments and ensuing innovations prevent almost 900,000 premature hiv/aids deaths the introduction of Haart Treatments caused a significant drop in the hiv/aids death rate.