Johnson & Johnson said Friday it will invest more than $500 million over the next four years toward eradicating HIV and tuberculosis.
J&J will dedicate a team of researchers toward accelerating the development of next generation medicines and vaccines for HIV and tuberculosis, and they hope to complement governmental efforts to eliminate the diseases by 2030.
"No single institution can tackle the historic challenge of eliminating an infectious disease," said Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, in a statement. "By advancing our technologies, uniting our best scientists and leveraging decades of experience in HIV and TB, we're optimistic that we can make a significant contribution to the global effort."
Part of Johnson & Johnson's investment will involve advancing its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit's development of an HIV vaccine. In May, the company said it had enrolled 2,600 women ages 18 to 35 across five southern African countries to take part in its efficacy trial for its investigative vaccine.
In July, Janssen partnered with the NIH to launch a second efficacy trial for North America, South America and Europe involving 3,800 men who have sex with men and transgender individuals.
The $500 million investment will also go toward advancing Janssen's development of a long-acting injectable HIV treatment that can be administered to patients every other month and possibly no longer require them to take daily oral medications to keep the virus under control.
Development of a vaccine would have the huge implications for ending HIV, similarly to how measles and polio were largely eliminated once vaccines were introduced.
More than 37 million people around the world are living with HIV, including an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States. In 2017 more than 38,000 new infections occurred in the U.S.
Once considered a death sentence, the introduction of pre-exposure prophylactics as well as development of more effective antiretroviral medications has turned HIV into a chronic condition that has led to patients living decades with the disease.
A growing share of the HIV patient population is made up of senior citizens, with nearly half of those living with the disease age 50 and older in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But efforts to eliminate HIV have mostly stalled for years. While cases of new infections in the U.S. fell 9% from 2010 to 2016, new HIV infections globally declined 18% from 2010 to 2017, according to international HIV and AIDS charity Avert.
Ending HIV has been targeted as a key public health goal of the Trump administration, which has announced a multi-agency plan to reduce new HIV infections by 90% by 2030.