President Bush To Announce Federal Funding for New G8 HIV Vaccine Initiative
President Bush on Thursday at the three-day Group of Eight summit in Sea Island, Ga., plans to announce U.S. funding for a new global consortium to collaborate and share research to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine, two administration officials said, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Lindlaw, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/10). G8 officials from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia on Tuesday at the summit announced the formation of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise to speed the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine and streamline research and development efforts (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/9). The plan calls for the establishment of HIV vaccine development centers throughout the world, the expansion of manufacturing capabilities, the creation of standardized measurement systems, the construction of clinics for trials and the creation of rules allowing regulatory authorities in different countries to recognize the results of foreign clinical trials, according to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, the AP/Sun reports. In addition, the initiative will encourage scientists from developing nations to play a larger role in the search for a vaccine, Fauci said, according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/10).
The G8 summit is expected to close on Thursday with discussions on development issues, followed by a working lunch with the leaders of Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. A senior U.S. official said that the lunch meeting will focus on new G8 initiatives, including the vaccine initiative (Kyodo News, 6/10). South African President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday at a gathering sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations said that U.S. aid to Africa, including the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is too focused on individual countries and should be largely directed toward the continent as a whole (Gedda, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/9). PEPFAR directs funding to 12 African nations -- Botswana, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia -- and Haiti and Guyana in the Caribbean (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/24). The World AIDS Campaign is expected to present a call for action at the summit, urging G8 leaders to "provide the practical, financial and political support necessary to increase prevention, care and treatment to tackle the HIV pandemic." WAC Director Marcel van Soest said that in 2003, "the G8 governments promised to fulfill their shared obligations to deliver on the commitments they agreed to in the U.N. Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS in 2001. Yet in 2004, AIDS is not even on the G8 agenda. If anything, we are moving backwards" (Reuters, 6/9).
AIDS on 'Sidelines'
The AIDS epidemic is "unlikely to get much attention" during the G8 summit, Barbara Wallace, who works on HIV/AIDS and health initiatives for the humanitarian organization CARE, writes in a Savannah Morning News opinion piece. Such a reality "sidelines the crucially needed discussion" of how to fight HIV/AIDS, which kills 8,000 people a day and "threatens to destabilize some of the world's poorest nations," Wallace says. Although the problems surrounding the epidemic are "crushing," there are "valiant, dedicated people" who "refuse to give up hope" and simply need resources, Wallace says. The G8 summit could be an "excellent opportunity to revisit and renew" the funding and support commitments that G8 countries made at the 2003 summit in Evian, France, Wallace says. She concludes that if people in developing countries can "keep hope in the face of devastating odds, we in the world's richest nations must keep our promise to support them" (Wallace, Savannah Morning News, 6/9).
Journal-Constitution Examines African HIV Treatment Needs
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday examined the need for antiretroviral drugs in Ethiopia and other African nations. Only about 5,500 people in Ethiopia can afford treatment, according to the Journal-Constitution (Thibodeaux, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/10). The complete article is available online.