Call for end to AIDs vaccine ‘delay’

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The National AIDS Trust is using World AIDS Vaccine Day, which takes place today, to call for a global AIDS vaccine spending to be doubled.

The organisation claims more money is needed to provide a chance of halting the HIV pandemic in the future.

Despite large-scale prevention efforts throughout the world, last year there were 5 million new HIV infections and 3 million deaths from AIDS, according to the NAT.

New prevention technologies such as an AIDS vaccine are clearly needed if we want to succeed in ending the pandemic. However, current global spending and commitment to develop a safe, effective and widely-available AIDS vaccine is insufficient.

There are currently 30 vaccine products in human trials throughout the world, including on every continent, and between 2000 and 2005 public sector investment in AIDS vaccine research more than doubled. In 2005 the G8 committed to increase direct investment in AIDS vaccine research and to establish market incentives to encourage greater engagement by private industry.

However, much more needs to be done by public and private sectors to create a unified global response to the HIV epidemic. Currently only a handful of private companies are engaged in vaccine research and global spending is half what is needed.

An early day motion to mark World AIDS Vaccine Day has been tabled in the House of Commons.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust said: “We cannot afford to delay in stepping up the search for an AIDS vaccine.

“There have been great leaps forward in international commitment and funding but it is still not enough given the scale of HIV pandemic. The private sector also needs to do more to engage in AIDS vaccine research.”

Tony Blair, reacted to questions from Conservative leader, David Cameron, in Parliament yesterday, regarding the government’s commitment to combating AIDs.

The Prime Minister called for a “coordinated effort from the international community” and said the government is working with drug and pharmaceutical companies to find cheap treatments for AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria.

He signalled an aim for “universal access by 2010” through a £1.5 billion spending budget.