“Current anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is a life-long treatment with significant co-morbidities and side-effects that is not accessible or effective for a large percentage of people living with HIV (PLWHIV)”
This was brought to light during the Grand Challenges 2019 Round Table Meeting, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) CEO, Dr. Izukanji Sikazwe was one of the five panelists comprising Director, National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, professor Thumbi Ndung’u, Chair, HIV Pathogenesis Program, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Moses “Supercharger” Nsubuga HIV advocate, Stigmaless and Dr.Trevor Mundel, President, Global Health Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who presented on, ‘The Case for an HIV Cure and How to Get There’.
Prof. Thumbi Ndung’u said despite the success of ART, overall viral suppression was still low in many parts of the world. “Even some regions where viral suppression had significantly improved (e.g., East and Southern Africa), the disease burden is still extremely high because of the chronic nature of HIV”.
He said funding had slowed and was far off-track from the UNAIDS identified $26.2Billion necessary by the year 2020 to maintain progress with the first generation of cures anticipated a decade or more away.
He added that using a target product profile (TPP) helps to think about the different generations of cure as well as align all stakeholders by broadly defining the regimen or product the community wants to deliver to the field, form the “north star” and define the minimally-acceptable and optimistic interventions and evolve based on breakthrough scientific developments and changing patient needs.
And Dr. Izukanji Sikazwe added that a TTP working group comprising leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, research institutions, advocacy groups, and potential funders has been constituted to develop TPPs for HIV cure, including those applicable to low middle income countries (LMICs) and other resource constrained settings.
She added that HIV Cure Africa Acceleration Partnership (HCAAP), a public private partnership has been established to drive and coordinate end-to-end progress towards the goal of an HIV cure across all relevant stakeholders. “HCAAP’s unique role in the HIV landscape is to bring all stakeholders together and give community members a voice throughout the development process. HCAAP will accelerate and influence the design of cure products to maximize implementation and sensitize key stakeholders to promote rapid uptake of products”.
Dr. Sikazwe said a near-final draft of the HCAAP concept note, which establishes the need for the group and its role is being developed and planned for publication in the coming months as well as sharing it broadly at the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) 2019 to be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 2nd to 7th December 2019.
“It is hoped that the HCAA group could be established once funding is secured in early 2020”.
The Grand Challenges Annual Meeting is a convening of over 1,000 key leaders from across the global community to share best practices, encourage collaboration and seek solutions for common challenges. It aims to build momentum for global health and development innovation and foster scientific collaboration among international groups and researchers.