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AIDS: Still a Problem, Still Big Business for Pharma

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On World AIDS Day, checking in on the progress of treatments.

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Red ribbons cover the globe on Tuesday, World AIDS Day, as people around the planet take the day to raise awareness about the crippling disease, while the government and major corporations wear their ribbons in a different way.

HIV, the infection that leads to AIDS, affects 33 million people worldwide -- including over one million people in the US. More than 20 years after the discovery of the disease, Big Pharma and the US government are making every effort to combat its spread, while also creating a more comfortable way of life for those already living with HIV.

"We have made progress, but we face an unending pandemic, one that spares no one, that unfortunately, disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, and which is the defining health challenge of our times," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in an address on Monday.

President Obama is addressing the issue through a program created by the previous administration, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Later this week, leaders of the program will outline their five-year plan for transitioning the program from an emergency response vehicle to a sustainable health system. The President will also implement the repeal of the "HIV entry ban," a policy that prevented people living with HIV/AIDS from entering the US.

But the government isn't leading the fight against the disease -- Big Pharma is. Each of the major drugmakers has been doing its part to advance the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) -- which brought in $1.9 billion in the first nine months of this year on its two solely-owned HIV medicines -- announced Monday that it's teaming up with the National AIDS Fund, a philanthropic organization, to further investigate why some 640,000 Americans living with HIV are going untreated or are receiving substandard care.
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