December is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, which is a time to educate people on HIV/AIDS, remind people to get tested and increase overall awareness and services for treatment and prevention.
The healthcare and pharmaceutical companies that take DiversityInc’s annual Top 50 survey have done their research to provide the best treatment and prevention to people with HIV/AIDS, and have also come across breakthrough research. Here’s a look at treatments and innovations from some of those companies.
At-Home HIV Testing
While strides have been made to detect and treat HIV since the HIV epidemic started in 1981, there’s still work to be done in getting more people to test. There are 38.4 million people around the world that have HIV, but 15% do not know they have HIV.
When a person is diagnosed with HIV, they can receive antiretroviral therapy. But if a person has it and doesn’t know, they could spread it unknowingly and continue the cycle of infections.
To help solve this problem and make HIV testing more accessible, Abbott (No. 3 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) has launched a Panbio HIV Self Test, which is a rapid point-of-care test that is done through a fingerstick blood sample and tests for the detection of HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies. The results of the test come back in minutes.
Gavin Cloherty, Ph.D., head of Infectious Disease Research, Diagnostics, Abbott, said the test gives “people the ability to reliably test themselves conveniently in the privacy of their homes and get results in 15-20 minutes. This empowers them with health information to prevent onward transmission of the virus. It also gets more people into the healthcare system where they can be treated and supported.”
The Panbio HIV Self Test is available in select international markets but not yet in the U.S.
Factor Equity Into Treatment Plans
During World AIDS Day in 2021, Northwell Health (No.1 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top Hospitals and Health Systems list) pledged its support of the World Health Organization’s goal to end AIDS by 2030. To do so, David Rosenthal, D.O., Ph.D., medical director for the Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV (CYAAPH) and the Center for Transgender Care at Northwell Health, said equity has to be factored into the treatment plans of health systems to achieve this.
Like Abbott’s Cloherty, Rosenthal said universal HIV testing is needed, adding that only 55% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 know they are living with HIV. Testing for the virus needs to be incorporated into routine healthcare visits and should be “as routine as screening patients for high cholesterol and diabetes,” he said.
Another step toward ending AIDS is to stop people from getting HIV, which can be done through education around and the use of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP can be taken as a pill once/day or as an injection given every two months. It helps people who do not have HIV from getting it and if a person is exposed to the virus, PrEP can “stop the virus from establishing a permanent infection and reduce the incidence of HIV infection in those at risk,” Northwell Health writes.