New Report: Global Investment in HIV Cure Research and Development

September 23, 2020

2020 has brought unprecedented catastrophe and uncertainty—from droughts, storms and wildfires related to climate change, to short-sighted, self-serving political manipulations, and a pandemic ravaging global health and the world economy—but those committed to the research enterprise in HIV have persevered with important advances. Efficacy results for one trial on long-acting injectable PrEP and a positive opinion allowing the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring to continue toward regulatory approval, right? These results have won inspiring news headlines, and HIV cure research is no exception: Has someone just been cured of HIV with a cheap, simple drug regimen? Promising results for vesatolimod in monkeys and humans. Brazilian man in long-term HIV remission – without a stem cell transplant. HIV and COVID-19 research must continue, and advocacy for funding is imperative. This just released report from AVAC and the International AIDS Society, the Global Investment in HIV Cure Research and Development in 2019, tracks the latest investment data and provides an analysis of funding trends. Read on for a recap of the findings and also check out AVAC resources on funding for COVID-19 research here.

Key Findings in Cure R&D Funding for 2019

Investments in HIV cure research, including therapeutic HIV vaccines (for treatment), increased approximately 1 percent, from US$323.9 million invested in 2018 to US$328.2 million in 2019.

Compared to the US$88.1 million invested since tracking began in 2012, 2019 investments represent a 272 percent increase. But these 2019 figures also represent a much smaller year to year increase than seen in previous years.

The public sector accounted for the majority of funding, at US$306.7 million, with the remaining US$20.7 million invested by philanthropies such as amfAR, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Institut Pasteur.

The smaller year to year increase may reflect research funding cycles or even the challenges of funder reporting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and may not reflect a broader trend. But another report, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 NIH HIV/AIDS Professional Judgment Budget: Catalyzing Partnerships for HIV Prevention, released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of AIDS Research (OAR) on August 4, 2020, adds an additional dimension to consider.

The Professional Judgment Budget provides guidance to the US Administration and US Congress on underfunded research in HIV. It’s a sort of wish list for HIV research at the NIH. For FY21, the OAR recommended a 9.2 percent increase for HIV cure research at the NIH, an amount significantly smaller than other areas of research addressed in the Professional Judgment Budget. This budget suggests that the largest funder of HIV cure research by far, the NIH, sees both opportunities for growth, but also limits to new research opportunities as compared to other research.

As advocates, it will be important to continue to highlight the importance of HIV cure research and areas where research should focus. This report should serve as a tool for advocacy and to inform public policy that accelerates scientific progress in cure research. We thank all of the individuals who contributed data to the report and who gave time and effort as trial participants.

If your organization is a funder or recipient of HIV cure grants, and we don’t know you already, please contact us at analysis of funding trends for HIV prevention research at large, due out early in 2021.