Nearly half of the 38 million people currently living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy. Providing a daily supply of antiretroviral drugs to all 38 million people infected with HIV has proven to be a logistical and economic challenge. Complicating treatment efforts further, inconsistent access or adherence to antiretroviral drugs promotes the evolution of resistance to those drugs. Despite significant advances in drug development and access, the HIV pandemic continues to be humanitarian catastrophe.
Globally, two million people become newly infected with HIV per year. Even in the United States, there are still 50,000 new HIV infections per year. A safe and effective vaccine could stop the HIV pandemic. However, daunting scientific obstacles have, thus far, prevented the development of a safe and effective vaccine for HIV.
In addition to afflicting millions of victims, the HIV pandemic has destructive indirect consequences. For example, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is on the rise due to the existence of millions of immunodeficient hosts with HIV. The HIV pandemic is also disastrous economically for developing countries that have lost a significant portion of their potential workforce through the sickness and death of young adults with HIV/AIDS, and the diversion of people and resources needed to care for the sick. HIV/AIDS places an enormous burden on the US healthcare system, costing private insurers $3.8 billion and the federal government $20 billion per year. The indirect consequences of the HIV pandemic exact a significant toll on top of its direct humanitarian cost.
Ending the HIV pandemic is a national and global priority.