Gilead Access in Action: Vatican HIV Partnership

Over the past decade, global efforts to scale up access to HIV therapy have enabled millions of people in low- and middle-income countries to receive life-saving treatment. Today, nearly two-thirds of people on HIV treatment in developing countries – an estimated 10 million people – are taking Gilead's HIV medicines.
 
But despite extraordinary progress in global treatment expansion, 20 million people around the world are still in need of HIV therapy. Many of those who lack treatment live in rural areas many miles from the closest health center. Many do not know they are living with HIV.
 
To help close the treatment gap, Gilead has forged innovative partnerships to develop new models of HIV treatment delivery in resource-limited settings. For example, Gilead is working with the Vatican on a test-and-treat demonstration project in the Shinyanga region of northern Tanzania, to test 300,000 people for HIV and link those diagnosed to treatment (an estimated 20,000 patients).
 
A sprawling population and few healthcare workers – let alone HIV specialists – make this region's high HIV rates difficult to address. To overcome these challenges, Gilead is collaborating with the Diocese of Shinyanga, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles, who have been working in the region for many years, and Doctors with Africa CUAMM, a Catholic medical mission, to enhance the church's existing HIV services and strengthen the local healthcare system. Gilead is providing medicines and diagnostics and supporting several infrastructure projects, including building a lab, expanding the local hospital and creating drug dispensaries where people can more easily pick up their medicines.
 
The project team engaged experts to change the model of care by making the best use of local health professionals. The new model broadens the scope of community health workers by enabling them to oversee routine follow-up visits and distribute medicines. This allows the limited number of HIV specialists to devote their time to diagnosing HIV, recommending optimal treatment plans and seeing patients in need of urgent medical attention.
 

Watch video: Vatican HIV Partnership

 

 
"The Vatican had valuable connections within the community to get people comfortable with the idea of getting screened and treated for HIV," said Gregg Alton, Executive Vice President, Commercial and Access Operations ALA, Corporate and Medical Affairs, Gilead Sciences. "We knew that the model of one chief doctor treating every patient every month was not sustainable, and that embedding into the existing health system was key."
 
Gilead is optimistic that the Tanzania test-and treat project can be adapted and scaled to other remote regions of the world that experience similar access challenges.
 
For more information about Gilead's access efforts, visit www.gilead.com/responsibility/developing-world-access.
At Gilead we are inspired by the opportunity to address unmet medical needs for patients living with life-threatening diseases around the world.