As we arrive at another World AIDS Day, more than 30 years after the start of this epidemic, we fortunately stand in a very different place than in prior years. Major strides in HIV therapy continue and more than 25 million people are now on antiretroviral therapy for HIV; a remarkable achievement - one that means the life expectancy of each of these individuals can be increased over 40 years longer than a decade ago. We are in the midst of an unprecedented time in HIV vaccine research; we have four concurrent efficacy trials underway, which will collectively enroll 12,200 volunteers in the search for an HIV vaccine over the next few years. We are testing two novel preventive vaccine regimens, and for the first time we’re testing the idea of using a broadly neutralizing antibody administered passively. We are using the power of biotechnology to identify, manufacture, and reduce the cost of these powerful natural molecules called antibodies. With the support of our funders and research partners, we are doing all that we can to honor loved ones taken from us too soon, and drive the progress that will secure a future without HIV for generations to come.
HIV has always had an enormous impact on individuals and communities. Children, mothers, and fathers are affected by each new infection. The disease knows no economic or geographic boundaries. It is impossible to speak of HIV and AIDS without considering poverty, racism, homophobia, transphobia, homelessness, access to medical care, gender bias, and most of the social issues of our time.
But even as we recognize the impact of these issues, we celebrate the work of resilient global communities that have stood up in support of the HIV vaccine research agenda. We are extremely grateful for the personal efforts of study participants, and their families who support this participation. We celebrate the advocates and activists who devote boundless energy to representing the needs of their communities, and giving voice to those who may be voiceless. We applaud the staff of our research sites for their devotion to the challenges of conducting these studies, and the care they provide to our volunteers. We recognize the support of our partners in academia and industry, and thank the funders who join us to ensure that the necessary resources are available to move the research forward.
Even as we remember those we have lost today, let us also honor the hope we experience at this extraordinary point in time. And let us continue to move the science forward, all of us together.