Priority Medicines for Europe and the World 2013 Update. Background Paper 6 - Priority Diseases and Reasons for Inclusion. BP 6.07 - Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (AIDS)
(2013; 48 pages)


AIDS is the deadliest epidemic of our time. The infective agent, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has already infected more than 60 million people around the world. AIDS is the leading cause of infectious disease mortality, surpassing tuberculosis and malaria.12 In 2008, about 68% of people living with HIV were in sub-Saharan Africa with around 35% in eight countries alone. In 2005 and 2009, the G8 met in Scotland and Italy and committed to achieving universal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment by 2010. However, universal access remains a dream for millions of people and faces serious technical, economic and political challenges on a number of fronts.

Briefly, in the last ten years the landscape of national HIV epidemics has changed for the better in most countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. There were 700 000 fewer new HIV infections across the world in 2011 than in 2001. Latest data show that a 50% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections (HIV incidence) has been achieved in 25 low- and middle-income countries between 2001 and 2011.

However, in the Middle East and North Africa, the number of people newly infected with HIV increased by 35% between 2001 and 2011, and the rate of new HIV infections continues to rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The commercial market for antiviral therapeutics will ensure that there will be no shortage of private research funding for the immediate future. Opportunities exist for public funding of research. Both private and public funders, however, should consider the following:

  • Although the clinical efficacy with the existing antivirals has improved dramatically, additional forms of therapy and treatment strategies are needed.
  • Antiviral therapy alone will not end the epidemic and a comprehensive public health approach remains essential.
  • Because the HIV genome mutates very rapidly, during the course of an infection, the development of resistance to antivirals is common. There is a continuing need for the development of new antiviral agents.
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