BUSINESS

Bill Gates Is Donating $140 Million Towards HIV Prevention

Bill and Melinda Gates are investing $140 million in devices that will help prevent the spreading of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

The device is a tiny implantable pump the size of a matchstick, and it can hold between 6 to 12 months worth of medicine. The pump, designed by Intarcia Therapeutics Inc., is manufactured to deliver continuous microdoses of medication to patients, ensuring they stay up to date with their treatments.

Intarcia’s implant would work in a preventative stage of HIV called pre-exposure prophylaxis. The one drug on the market designed for pre-exposure prophylaxis has already shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of HIV infection by over 90 percent.

Some 2.1 million people worldwide were diagnosed with HIV in 2015, and around 36.7 million are living with the disease, the Center for Disease Control reports. As of June 2016, 17 million people were receiving medical treatment worldwide for HIV.

Intarcia announced their partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Thursday, saying that, with the help of the Gates Foundation, the firm is now “poised to open up a totally new category of important once- or twice-yearly treatment and prevention therapies for some of the world’s most serious chronic diseases.”

The Gates Foundation has a branch solely dedicated to fighting HIV around the globe, and the couple has committed more than $3 billion to date towards the cause.

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“There’s a vital need for an HIV/AIDS intervention that allows those at risk to incorporate prevention more easily into their daily lives,” said CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We feel optimistic about our partnership with Intarcia and the prospect of an implantable prophylactic device that could make a world of difference.”

Bill Gates reportedly visited Intarcia to get a first-hand look at the cutting edge technology, and he discussed the ins and outs of the device with Intarcia’s CEO for nearly two hours, the Journal reports.

While the company has yet to decide which HIV drug to put into the pump, it says it has ample times, as it will take several years for the device to reach the market. Intarcia’s and the Gates Foundation intend for the device to be affordable and available to the poor populations of the developing world.

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