G8 Summit Participants To Endorse Formation of HIV/AIDS Vaccine Consortium
U.S. officials on Tuesday announced that participants at the three-day Group of Eight summit in Sea Island, Ga., have reached an agreement to form a global consortium to "collaborate and share information" to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine "as quickly as possible," London's Guardian reports (Teather, Guardian, 6/9). G8 officials from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia at the summit announced the formation of a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise program to speed the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine and "streamline" research and development efforts, according to the Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis Star, 6/9). The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative on Tuesday lauded the creation of the vaccine enterprise. IAVI, which is a founding member of the consortium, said in a statement, "A new level of global collaboration in AIDS vaccine research and development is critical, so that the most promising vaccine candidates, regardless of country of origin, are prioritized for human testing" (IAVI release, 6/9). Summit participants reached consensus on three other issues, including combating famine in East Africa, eradicating polio by the end of 2005 and reducing poverty, the Star reports (Indianapolis Star, 6/9).
Development, Debt Relief
The Center for Global Development's Commission on Weak States and U.S. National Security on Tuesday to coincide with the G8 summit released a report on development and national security, which cites HIV/AIDS as an example of how the Bush administration and Congress focus "too heavily on military force and not enough on development aid" to combat terrorism, the New York Times reports (Becker, New York Times, 6/9). The report, titled "On the Brink: Weak States and U.S. National Security," is based on nine months of research by a bipartisan panel of 30 former government officials, senior business leaders, academics and nongovernmental organization representatives, including Helene Gayle, director of HIV, tuberculosis and reproductive health for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Commission on Weak States and U.S. National Security Web site, 6/9). The report says that the administration's budget for this year includes a $1 billion increase to combat global HIV/AIDS and provide assistance to the world's poorest nations but also requests $21 billion in additional funding for the Department of Defense, according to the Times. The "gap" between the two fields of spending "exemplifies the commission's fears" about the administration's views on development aid, the Times reports. The report recommends a new cabinet-level secretary of development to coordinate development efforts and "reiterate[s] several traditional development remedies," including more debt relief for poor countries (New York Times, 6/9).
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) at the release of the report said, "With the scourge of AIDS and other diseases that know no borders, we cannot afford the existence of more states that cannot feed, house, educate or inoculate their citizens," adding, "For all these reasons, we ignore failed states at our own peril. We have both a humanitarian obligation and a national security mandate to pay attention" (Biden release, 6/8). The Global AIDS Alliance said in a release that G8 should "act fast to keep its past commitments to ensuring access to basic education," which "is essential to the fight against AIDS and for meeting the needs of the millions of children orphaned by AIDS." GAA also said that the G8 countries are "undermining" the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by not increasing their pledges to the fund. GAA added that the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative goal of treating three million HIV-positive people with antiretroviral drugs by 2005 "will also go unmet unless the Global Fund receives enough funds to provide additional grants next year" (GAA release, 6/8). Debt, AIDS and trade advocacy group DATA on Monday released a report, titled "G8 and African Leadership in the War on AIDS and Extreme Poverty," saying that "[f]or humanitarian, economic and international security reasons, G8 and African leaders should work together" during the summit "to implement an emergency plan addressing the interlinked crises of unpayable debt, AIDS and unfair trade policies in Africa." The report says that every G8 country should "commit to providing its fair share of the resources needed to fight global AIDS (and the interrelated diseases of malaria and TB), through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and ongoing bilateral programs." The report adds that G8 also should support WHO's 3 by 5 Initiative (DATA report, June 2004).
Matthew Bishop, business editor for the Economist magazine, said on Tuesday in a commentary on MPR's "Marketplace Morning Report" that at the Copenhagen Consensus held earlier this month in Denmark, "some of the world's top economists concluded that there is no better way to help the world's poor than to spend more money on preventing the spread of AIDS" (Bishop, "Marketplace Morning Report," MPR, 6/8). The conference, organized by the Environmental Assessment Institute, featured an eight-person panel of economists assembled by Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg. Conference attendees, who included other academics, used a cost-benefit analysis to create a list of global priorities for spending on international aid efforts. The panelists considered 10 global challenges, including climate change, diseases, hunger, migration, sanitation, corruption, trade barriers, education, conflicts and financial stability. The experts concluded that programs to fight HIV/AIDS could create "extraordinarily high benefits" and prevent almost 30 million new HIV cases by 2010. They said in a statement, "Although costs are considerable, they are tiny in relation to what can be gained" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/1). Bishop said, "It has been said that if you'd laid down all the economists in the world head to toe, they still wouldn't reach a conclusion, so if even economists can agree that AIDS is the top priority, surely it isn't beyond the leaders of the G8 to do the same" ("Marketplace Morning Report," MPR, 6/8).