The federal government's goal to end HIV transmissions in the United States is about to get a huge boost courtesy of pharma company Gilead Sciences.
The American drug maker announced on Thursday that it will be donating its anti-HIV drug Truvada to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help finally eliminate the spread of the deadly virus in the country.
The news was later confirmed by U.S. Pres. Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar through Twitter.
Truvada For PrEP
Truvada is known as a highly effective drug for preventing HIV transmissions. However, not everybody can afford the $20,000 price tag it would cost for a year's worth of treatment.
Gilead's donation is expected to help stop the current trend of HIV infection, which is victimizing as many as 40,000 Americans every year.
The drug can be taken by people who are at risk of infection because of various reasons, such as illegal drug use or engaging in sexual intercourse with an HIV-positive partner.
In his recent State of the Union Address, Trump outlined his plan to cut HIV transmission in the United States by 90 percent over the next 10 years. He asked members of Congress to pass his initiative so that he can authorize government agencies to carry out his goal.
As part of his anti-HIV drive, the President said his administration needed $291 million to fund efforts during the first year of implementation alone.
Following Gilead's announcement, HHS Sec. Azar explained the Truvada donation would allow Americans, who would normally not be able to afford or even access the drug, to receive HIV treatment.
"The majority of Americans who are at risk and who could protect themselves with PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) are still not receiving the medication," Azar said.
"This agreement will help close that gap substantially and deliver on President Trump's promise to end the HIV epidemic in America."
Supplies Of Truvada For The CDC
Gilead is donating up to 2.4 million bottles of Truvada to the CDC each year until at least 2025. This will allow an additional 200,000 people to have access to the drug.
The pharma company is also in the process of securing approval for another HIV drug known as Descovy. It plans to extend its period of donations until 2030.
The U.S. government has agreed to cover the costs of distributing Truvada to Americans all over the country.
In a statement, Gilead's Chief Patent Officer Gregg Alton said they are proud to partner with the CDC to increase the public's access to treatment that can help prevent new HIV cases.
The drug maker believes the Truvada donation, combined with efforts to curb the root causes of HIV, such as homophobia, racism, stigma, transphobia, and violence against women, can lead to the end of disease transmission in the United States.
Carl Schmid, AIDS Institute deputy executive director, welcomed the donation from Gilead, stating that it would free up federal government spending that would otherwise be used on getting medication of uninsured people.
U.S. lawmakers have yet to secure budget for Pres. Trump's anti-HIV efforts. However, the House Appropriations Committee has approved nearly $500 million in spending for disease treatment and prevention earlier this week.
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