Gilead zeros in with community groups around the world to help end AIDS epidemic

HIV is a very personal disease, and Gilead Sciences knows the community can often best serve itself. The pharma’s new program, "Zeroing In: Ending the HIV Epidemic," has gifted $24 million in grants to 116 organizations in 41 countries to best tackle the problem on the ground.

Gilead chose the recipients based on groups that had a good standing in the community with plans already in place. The Zeroing In program engages with areas or jurisdictions such as cities, states, counties and countries that are already working toward ending the AIDS epidemic, and the pharma knows the path to success is through collaboration.

“We purposefully urged organizations to submit funding requests in partnership with other organizations, because if we are to end the epidemic we need a partnership,” Korab Zuka, Gilead’s vice president of public affairs and president of the Gilead Foundation, said.

“It's not going to be one organization—it’s not going to be the government—it’s going to be a collection of everyone.”


The program is focused on three components: comprehensive HIV innovation, digital health innovation, and community outreach and education. Zuka said that COVID-19 has shown how to deliver education and outreach in a new way. Some of the plans include home testing kits and other new ways of support and care, as well as how digital health can work within the HIV space. He says the goal is to make sure not to lose the momentum that has been in place regarding ending the HIV epidemic.

Zuka explains since HIV as a disease category is so grassroots-driven that even though there are many national organizations, it’s really at the local level where the real change and work happens, as that is where the trust is built within the community.

“For so many of us, including these organizations, this is not work, it is life. Hearts and passion and minds are all thrown in it wanting to make a difference for patients. That's the beauty of working in a disease category like HIV, which is a very passionate disease category—people throw everything they have in it in wanting to make a difference.”

Gilead has been working in the HIV/AIDS space for decades, and the pharma has a portfolio of 11 drugs that are currently commercially available including blockbusters Biktarvy and Descovy.

It’s latest prospect, long-acting HIV candidate lenacapavir, is, however, struggling to get FDA approval after the agency slapped Gilead with a complete response letter last month. The problem centers on concerns about the compatibility of Gilead’s drug with its storage vials.