Editor’s note: World AIDS Day, which is Monday, Dec. 1, serves as a reminder that while significant progress has been made in the global battle against HIV/AIDS, there is still much more to be done and we must recommit to the goal of Getting to Zero. Johnson & Johnson, driven by our purpose of caring, remains committed to the prevention, detection, education and treatment of HIV/AIDS. This blog post is the third in a series intended to provide a glimpse of these efforts and some of the individuals leading them.
I have been working in HIV for the greater part of three decades. Over this period, I have seen shifts in policy, advances in science, and starts and stops in action towards this disease. Every World AIDS Day, I take time to reflect upon the progress that has been made, and the work that remains to be done, both here in the U.S. and abroad, to better the lives of the millions of people living with HIV around the world.
There are over a million people living with HIV in the U.S. today. Less than 30 percent have reached their treatment goals. Compounding the problem, many of the most vulnerable populations often go without the treatment and care they need due to a series of barriers, structural and otherwise, that are starting to give way but have yet to be fully broken down.
Our U.S. Community Liaison Team, of which I am a proud member, is working to provide HIV education, support, and resources to patients living with HIV as well as the broad spectrum of allied healthcare professionals that assist them in their care – including case managers, nurses, and health educators.
Working together is key to ensuring that no one is left behind in the fight against HIV. I work with clinics and non-profit organizations across several high-burden states to share best practices and find solutions to help educate patients. We focus on training healthcare professionals on the safe and appropriate use of our medicines to treat HIV, but also provide information on the plethora of HIV/AIDS-related challenges that can have a tremendous impact on people’s lives, such as the links between HIV and mental health.
HIV education and awareness targeted toward patients, healthcare professionals, and the broader community is necessary to improving health outcomes and the everyday experiences of people affected by HIV/AIDS. We need a holistic, patient-centered response if we are to make real change. Since 2007, I have served on the Los Angeles County Women’s HIV Task Force, where we have worked to create several public service announcements to showcase the diversity of patients living with HIV. These videos are focused on raising awareness that the face of HIV has changed and that HIV may be viewed as a chronic, treatable disease, with many people living with HIV leading productive lives. Most importantly, they serve as a testament to the brave women, men, children, and adults who battle the disease every single day.
Globally, we are making great strides against HIV. For the first time in 30 years, the U.S. has a national HIV/AIDS strategy to promote the health and well-being of people living with HIV across the country. Our Community Liaison team works tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of people living with HIV as part of Johnson & Johnson’s larger commitment to improving health for people everywhere. I am so proud of the work we are doing and truly honored to work with my friends and colleagues on such an important issue in public health. Working together with patients and their communities, we have the power to turn the tide on HIV.
Joseph Leahy is a Community Liaison Manager with Janssen Therapeutics, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Joseph began his work in the HIV community in 1986 in New York City. He has 11 years experience working as an administrator for an HIV Clinic in Los Angeles. For five years he served as Vice President of Let There Be Hope Medical Research Institute in Beverly Hills. He spent one year as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Western Drug Medical Supply before joining Johnson & Johnson. In 2006 he served on the board of L.U.C.E.S. (Latinos Unidos Contra El SIDA). He is the recipient of a 2007 Guardian Angel Award from The Life Group L.A. for outstanding service and dedication to the HIV Community. Joseph served on the host committees for the U.S. Conference on AIDS in 2007, 2012 and 2014. In his current role as Community Liaison Manager he supports the educational efforts of the AIDS Service Organizations throughout Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii.
About the work Johnson & Johnson is doing to prevent and combat HIV/AIDS:
As a transformational medical innovator, Janssen, the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, is committed to developing medicines and comprehensive solutions against HIV/AIDS. Through the Janssen Global Public Health HIV Medicines Access and Partnerships Program our efforts to ensure affordable and sustainable access to our HIV medicines in least developed countries are working. During the course of 2014 we launched a collaborative commitment, New Horizons Advancing Pediatric HIV Treatment, to build awareness and incite action around the unmet needs of HIV treatment-experienced children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition we have more than 100 philanthropic programs in more than 50 least developed countries that attempt to address the needs of those affected by HIV/AIDS. .content