Lack of International Commitment Threatens Search for HIV Vaccine, Lewis Says
The search for an HIV vaccine is in jeopardy because of a lack of funds and global commitment, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said on Tuesday at the AIDS Vaccine International Conference in Montreal, the CP/Canada.com reports. Lewis said the $640 million went into HIV vaccine research and development in 2004 was about half the funding needed. He also said that vaccine research hardly has been mentioned at recent high-level meetings on HIV/AIDS prevention. Lewis said that there is not a full understanding of "the carnage that is to come" in the HIV/AIDS pandemic, adding that there is a lack of enthusiasm from developed countries to fund vaccine development. "I don't think the world yet realizes the full, incomparable horror of AIDS, and its inexorable spread around the planet," he said (CP/Canada.com , 9/7). Lewis urged researchers to raise their "collective voices" to speak about the "funding dimensions of the vaccine," adding, "It can't be left solely to activists" (CBC News , 9/7). Rafick-Pierre Sekaly -- the scientific director of CANVAC, a network for Canadian vaccine research -- said on Tuesday at the conference that an HIV vaccine could be developed in five years. Sekaly said that even a vaccine that is partially effective could save millions of lives (CBC News , 9/7). However, Michael Keefer, a professor of medicine at the University of Rochester in New York, said that the vaccines currently undergoing human clinical testing probably will not produce an effective vaccine within the next decade. "I would say a partially effective vaccine [is possible] in the midterm future, and then constantly improving on that is the likely scenario," Keefer said (CP/Canada.com , 9/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.