The Need for Innovation in the Treatment of HIV
Science has come a long way since the first HIV diagnosis was made in 1981. From a disease against which nothing could be done, HIV is nowadays mostly considered a chronic condition. But the fight against HIV is anything but over. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million Americans live with HIV. Annually, approximately 38,000 people are diagnosed with HIV. Male-to-male sexual contacts represent two thirds of HIV transmissions but heterosexual contacts account for 25 percent of new HIV diagnosis. African and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV, with 69% of new diagnosis annually.
One of the keys to end the HIV epidemic is to ensure that people living with HIV have a viral load below detection level. Scientists have determined that people living with an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit the infection. A CDC report1 from 2018 estimated that only 56% of people living with HIV had an undetectable viral load. This is due to an absence of diagnosis, to suboptimal treatment, to poor compliance or resistance to existing treatments. Trogarzo® is the first long-acting HIV treatment ever approved by the FDA. In fact, before Trogarzo®, there had not been a single new class of drug for the treatment of HIV approved in more than 10 years.
People living with HIV are often affected by other ailments and conditions such as lipodystrophy. Lipodystrophy is characterized by the redistribution of fat, including the accumulation and loss of fat in certain parts of the human body. The excess fat in the abdomen exerts pressure in the abdomen on the internal organs. The consequences of lipodystrophy are therefore numerous and serious. In fact, we now know that lipodystrophy is often the starting point of an even more serious condition called Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or NAFLD which, in turn, can lead to Non Alcoholic Steatohepatitis or NASH, cirrhosis and liver failure. Many patients migrate from lipodystrophy to NASH over time. NAFLD and NASH are known to cause serious metabolic disorders along with an inflammation cascade which leads to long-term damage to the liver due to the formation of scar tissue.
It is estimated that more than 90,000 people living with HIV in the United States also have lipodystrophy.