Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is set to test an experimental HIV vaccine in the U.S. and Europe sometime this year, the company confirmed with CNBC.
The experimental J&J vaccine is a mosaic-based preventative immunization that targets various strains of the HIV virus.
About 1.1 million people in the U.S. and 2 million people in Europe live with HIV, a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and makes a person more likely to become sick. If HIV is not treated, it can turn into AIDS, the late stage of HIV in which the virus badly damages the immune system. People with AIDS on average live about three years after their diagnosis, according to HIV.gov.
The company is also conducting a phase 2 clinical trial for the vaccine in Africa, in which 2,600 women in five southern African countries will be immunized. Initial results from that trial are expected by 2021, J&J said.
The J&J trial comes amid President Donald Trump’s pledge to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, a goal which public health advocates have cheered and have sought for years. Pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences, which dominates the $26 billion-a-year HIV drug market, reached an agreement with the Trump administration to donate medications that reduce the risk of HIV transmission for up to 200,000 people a year until 2025.
In late April, J&J and GlaxoSmithKline majority-owned ViiV Healthcare filed a new drug application with the FDA for their once-a-month injection treatment for HIV. In March, the two companies posted late-stage data that showed the shot was as effective as standard daily pills for controlling HIV.
Bloomberg first reported the company’s plan to conduct a clinical trial in the U.S. and Europe.