ATLANTA, GA - (NewMediaWire) - November 19, 2015 - GeoVax Labs, Inc. (OTCQB: GOVX) - On December 1, individuals and organizations across the globe will observe World AIDS Day 2015. GeoVax plans to commemorate the day by celebrating the progress made toward the development of a vaccine against Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) by its dedicated scientific staff and research partners, recognizing the work yet to be done, and bringing attention to the continued HIV epidemic in the United States.
World AIDS Day has been observed every year on December 1 since 1988. This worldwide effort draws people together in solidarity to pay tribute to the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS, to commemorate those who have succumbed to the disease, and to raise awareness about AIDS and the global spread of HIV. Every year, there is a theme for World AIDS Day. From 2011 to 2015, the ongoing international theme has been "Getting to Zero," focusing on reducing new HIV infections, discrimination, and AIDS related deaths to zero.
AIDS has killed nearly 39 million people worldwide since the epidemic began, and an estimated 37 million people are currently living with HIV infection. Considering that 70% of this number is in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV has become one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history, especially for low income countries. Despite recent improved access to antiretroviral treatment in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claims an estimated 2 million lives each year. In addition to these sad global statistics, GeoVax wants to bring attention to the following facts related to HIV in the United States.
- More than 1.2 million persons aged 13 years and older in the United States are infected with HIV.
- HIV incidence of new infections is about 50,000 per year. This has remained virtually unchanged for the past 20 years.
- Almost 1 in 8 (12.8%) infected individuals are unaware of their infection, and over 50% of youth (aged 13-24) do not know they are infected.
- Youth make up 17% of the US population, but account for an estimated 26% of all new HIV infections in the United States. Young gay and bisexual men account for 72% of new HIV infections among youth. This age group is showing an alarming increase in new infections.
- Of the 1.2 million persons living with HIV in the U.S. in 2009, it has been estimated that 82% were diagnosed, 66% were linked to care, 37% were retained in care, 33% were prescribed antiretroviral therapy, and only 25% had a suppressed viral load.
Minority Health Disparities
- African Americans represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but account for 44% of new HIV infections and 41% of people living with HIV.
- Hispanics/Latinos represent approximately 16% of the U.S. population, but account for 21% of new HIV infections and 20% of people living with HIV infection.
- African American youth account for an estimated 57% of new HIV infections among youth in the U.S., followed by Hispanic/Latino (20%) and white (20%) youth.
U.S. Taxpayer Cost Burden
- The lifetime medical cost savings from preventing one HIV infection is estimated to be $326,500, 75% of which is for antiviral and other medications.
- U.S. government spending for HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment is spread across multiple federal agencies, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Ryan White Program, and Social Security Disability Insurance. Total domestic spending in the FY 2015 budget for these programs (excluding research of new drugs/vaccines) is a staggering $20.8 billion.
GeoVax celebrates the tremendous strides made in HIV antiviral therapies over the past three decades. We applaud the efforts of those who have dedicated themselves to prevention efforts and expanded access to treatment. HIV medications can help many people live longer, healthier lives. But drug side effects are common, ranging from mild to life-threatening. The financial burden and social stigma continue to be a reality for many of those afflicted with HIV. And despite the availability of effective HIV medications, despite the best efforts of community education and prevention efforts, and despite the enormous amount of spending by the U.S. government to address the problem... the tide of new HIV infections may have been stemmed, but it has not yet been reversed. It has remained virtually unchanged in the U.S. for 20 years!
Much like the polio and smallpox eradication efforts, it will take a vaccine to eradicate HIV, and that remains the primary mission for our company. GeoVax has the leading HIV vaccine candidate designed to function against the subtype of HIV prevalent in the U.S. and other developed nations. Our vaccine has undergone more than 20 years of development, encompassing basic discovery research, preclinical animal testing, and safety testing in humans. It is ready for pivotal clinical trials. We are also applying our technology toward developing a vaccine against the HIV subtype prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.
We have a great sense of urgency to our mission, recognizing that it will take a vaccine for the World to truly reach the goal of "Getting to Zero." On this World AIDS Day, all of us at GeoVax remember those who have succumbed to HIV/AIDS, and we re-dedicate ourselves toward the goal of an AIDS-free generation.
GeoVax Labs, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases using its Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara-Virus-like Particle (MVA-VLP) vaccine platform. The Company's most advanced development programs are focused on vaccines against HIV and hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Marburg). GeoVax's vaccine platform supports in vivo production of non-infectious VLPs from the cells of the very person receiving the vaccine. The production of VLPs in the person being vaccinated mimics a natural infection, stimulating both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system to recognize, prevent, and control the target infection should it appear.
Clinical trials for GeoVax's preventive HIV vaccines have been conducted by the NIH-supported HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) with funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). Overall, GeoVax's HIV vaccines, in various doses and combinations, have been tested in 500 humans with very encouraging results. For more information, visit www.geovax.com.
Certain statements in this document are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. These statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may differ materially from those included in these statements due to a variety of factors, including whether: GeoVax can develop and manufacture its vaccines with the desired characteristics in a timely manner, GeoVax's vaccines will be safe for human use, GeoVax's vaccines will effectively prevent HIV or Ebola infection in humans, vaccines will receive regulatory approvals necessary to be licensed and marketed, GeoVax raises required capital to complete vaccine development, there is development of competitive products that may be more effective or easier to use than GeoVax's products, GeoVax will be able to enter into favorable manufacturing and distribution agreements, and other factors, over which GeoVax has no control. GeoVax assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, and does not intend to do so. More information about these factors is contained in GeoVax's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including those set forth at "Risk Factors" in GeoVax's Form 10-K.