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“Everybody Counts” – World AIDS Day 2017

Global HIV & AIDS figures

According to the latest global statistics on the status of AIDS epidemic, in 2016, 36.7 million people were living with HIV: 1.8 million people became newly infected and 1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

As of June 2017, 20.9 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is almost 3 million people more than those already accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2016.

People living with HIV accessing antiretroviral therapy

Currently, there are 19.5 million people globally on HIV treatment. A person living with HIV who starts antiretroviral therapy today will have the same life expectancy as an HIV-negative person of the same age. The risk of HIV transmission to an HIV-negative sexual partner is reduced by 96% if the partner living with HIV is taking antiretroviral therapy. AIDS-related deaths have globally declined by 43% since 2003.

Antiretroviral Therapy

In the last few years, unprecedented investment in AIDS research and accelerated access to new medicines have been made by private and public companies and national regulatory authorities working closely with researchers. Meanwhile pressure from the global AIDS movement has helped ensure that the prices of new medicines were affordable in almost every country in the world.

Since HIV retrovirus, the cause of AIDS, was first discovered in 1983, many antiretroviral medicines have been developed. Due to HIV being a highly mutative retrovirus with a capability to develop rapid resistance towards any antiretroviral therapy (ART) thrown against it, it is clear that novel virions will emerge which harbour small variations in their genetic code. The development of resistance towards ART medication has been mitigated successfully by the combined application of different classes of ART. Currently, combination antiretroviral therapy with at least three different antiretroviral medicines is standard treatment for all people newly diagnosed with HIV.

The cutting-edge approach of First Health Pharmaceuticals

In this perspective, First Health Pharmaceuticals has started clinical development of the first ever generation of  RNA Translation Inhibitor antiretroviral compounds. First Health Pharmaceuticals’ RNA Translation Inhibitors offer unique possibilities uncommon to traditional HIV antivirals, such as significantly reduced resistance development, proven efficacy against ART-resistant strains, improved delivery in the body and the possibility of successful co-application in shock&kill strategies for the eradications of HIV reservoirs. 

Our DDX3 RNA Helicase inhibiting Translation Inhibitor class of compounds does not target viral proteins but temporarily inhibits an enzyme of our own RNA cell biology that is of vital importance for the virus during its reproduction cycle. As such the virus finds itself in an impossible situation in which mutating its own viral proteins is no longer helpful in escaping from the drug effect. The inhibition of viral translation by our DDX3 Helicase inhibitors creates an abherrant and potentially toxic condition in the cell, where the accumulation of viral mRNA and misfolded proteins could induce apoptosis, which results in the death of the HIV infected cell, as from preliminary observation and system biology prediction.

Noteworthy, as DDX3 Helicases are involved in the life cycle of other RNA viruses and in some type of cancer, the DDX3 Helicase inhibiting compounds can also contrast many of the frequent HIV-related co-morbidities, such as AIDS-related cancers or Hepatitis C virus co-infections.

“Everybody Counts” Campaign

To complement the global World AIDS Day 2017 campaign which promotes the theme “Right to health”, the World Health Organization will highlight the need for all the people living with HIV to reach the goal of universal health coverage.

WHO recognized that, as ART is scaled up and countries adopt the “treat all” policy, ART services will need to be differentiated to provide adapted packages of care to people living with HIV with varied clinical needs, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and adolescents and members of key populations.


Source: First Health Pharmaceuticals, WHO, UNAIDS