The face of HIV is aging. This year, for the first time, more than half of people living with HIV in the U.S. will be older than 50.
After listening to healthcare providers, advocates and aging individuals living with HIV, Gilead Sciences realized more resources were needed to address their needs. Last week, it announced the Gilead HIV Age Positively initiative, handing out grants totaling $17.6 million to 30 different organizations in the U.S. The effort focuses on three initial areas: improvements to care coordination, resources for better well-being, and policies that impact people living and aging with HIV.
“There’s been a lot of conversation around ending the AIDS epidemic and stopping new infections, but there is, just as importantly, a population of people who have been living with HIV, in many cases for a very long time,” Amy Flood, senior VP of public affairs at Gilead, said. “We need to make sure we are addressing the needs that are unique to that population too.”
By 2030, more than 80% of people living with HIV will face at least one age-related medical condition, compared with just 29% in 2010.
Gilead has been working on the effort for a year, initially creating an advisory board of experts which will continue to talk and evolve as its members consider feedback. The grantees include a wide range of old and new organizations, and they cover both regional efforts like Test Positive Awareness Network in Chicago and My Brother’s Keeper in Mississippi as well as national ones like the AIDS Institute and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
“Over time, we will have a chance to see outcomes of some of the programs that are funded, and as important as hearing about the successes of those programs will be hearing about the gaps that maybe they don’t address, so this can evolve in years to come,” Flood said.
The new funding follows Gilead’s pledge in 2017 of $100 million over 10 years to the Commitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Southern States to support efforts to reduce HIV-related stigma and inequalities that disproportionately affect people living in the South.
Gilead’s first HIV drug to receive FDA approval was Viread in 2001, but the company now counts more than 10 HIV/AIDS therapies among its treatments. Most recently, the FDA approved Gilead’s Biktarvy, a single daily tablet for HIV-1 infections.