ViiV makes room on the sofa to discuss HIV

When it comes to HIV and its treatments there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation. HIV-focused pharma ViiV looked at what parent company GSK was doing with its “Science on the Sofa” series and realized this was a good way to get reliable and relatable information across to the HIV community and beyond, while also helping to tackle some stigmas about the disease.

ViiV’s “Science on the Sofa” takes a bit of a different turn than GSK’s with direct input from the HIV community about what topics they would like to see covered. Each episode features a ViiV scientist and a couple of folks from the community in a causal discussion on the topic. Currently the first series of three episodes have been produced and available on ViiV’s “Science on the Sofa” webpage.

“We think that the work our HIV scientists do is very cool,” Melinda Stubbee, ViiV’s director R&D and global medical communications said in an interview. “We think it's innovative and exciting, but we know it's not always explained in a way that's easy to understand. We noticed a lot of interest in HIV science, so we decided to make it our mission to come up with a way to make the science accessible to folks who aren't scientists, and for most of us the sofa is a comfortable and an informal place for conversation.”

Even though ViiV has only promoted the first episode, people are watching all three with nearly 80,000 views as of mid-November. In addition to the sofa chats, there is also a mix of animation and illustration to help make complicated scientific concepts like HIV cures or U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) a little easier to understand.

This approach continues on social channels as well with a variety of different formats such as story polls and memes to share content across its platforms to reach a wide audience who wants to engage.

“We've done research, we do social listening, social intelligence at a broader level and we know that younger people are engaging in different ways on social now,” Ben Cientanni, content planning and campaigns manager at ViiV Healthcare said. “They send memes they like funny content, they like short snackable material so we thought we really want this scientific content to resonate with those people, then we have to deliver it in a way that they're going to receive it. So that's what we did.”

ViiV, is consistently ranked as the most reputable pharma company and one most focused on social and diversity issues. The pharma focuses solely on HIV treatment and the business is projected to rake in about 7 billion pounds sterling in sales by 2026. The cabotegravir franchise—which currently includes Cabenuva treatment and Apretude for PrEP—could reach peak sales of around 3 billion pounds in 2030, ODDO BHF analysts estimated in a Friday note. Also in ViiV’s portfolio is Dovato which was greenlit in 2019 and made 787 million pounds sterling ($940 million) last year, as recorded under GSK.