Gilead Science is strengthening its position in the local human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) market with the reimbursement of Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment, the company said Wednesday.
|Yang Mi-sun, Gilead Science Korea’s head of sales and marketing for HIV and anti-fungal business, explains the importance of treating HIV, during a media session at the company’s headquarters in Jung-gu, downtown Seoul, on Wednesday.|
While the government reimburses all HIV treatments in Korea, the move is the first time that the ministry has approved insurance benefits for an HIV treatment as a preventive measure, it added.
"About 2,777 people die every day from HIV infection worldwide, and HIV has long been a global issue," said Yang Sang-yoon, head of the medical department at Gilead Science Korea, in a media session Wednesday. "With the development of innovative HIV therapies and global policies, new HIV infections around the world are on the decline."
Contrast to the global decline, however, the number of HIV patients in Korea is steadily increasing every year.
"In Korea, there are about 13,000 HIV patients, and new infection cases surpassed 1,200 cases last year," said Yang said. "However, both the industry and medical community guess there are more HIV patients in Korea who do not know they have been infected or diagnosed."
As the recent development of HIV treatments has made it easy to treat, Korea only has to improve on diagnosing the disease, the Gilead executive said.
Yang said he believes that the first course of business to improve awareness and make a diagnose-friendly environment is to remove the stigma that the society still has on HIV.
"Many people still think that HIV infection automatically leads to death," Yang said. "This is not true anymore."
If not adequately addressed, however, HIV will soon become an important social issue in Korea, he noted, adding that the company believes that the nation is headed in the right direction in treating HIV.
"Despite some issues, the company thinks it is very encouraging that HIV treatment is being applied as a preventive measure in Korea, which is largely conservative about HIV," Yang said.
In line with the increased awareness of HIV in Korea, the company plans to expand the scope of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of its HIV treatments in Korea, he added.