HIV/AIDS Vaccine Coalition Urges Continued Funding for Research Amid Economic Crisis
A recently released AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition report says that although there has been a renewed focus on discovery, innovation and basic science in vaccine research, action is needed to ensure that research funding continues during the economic downturn, VOA News reports. AVAC executive director Mitchell Warren said the report is "about putting all the pieces together ... not just the search for an AIDS vaccine, but in fact the entire HIV prevention response." He added, "[T]he good news is we have some new pieces of the puzzle, and we're expecting additional new pieces of understanding through research this year."
Warren said that AVAC believes HIV/AIDS vaccine research is in "one of the most exciting times," with "new energy, new commitment to unlocking some of the basic scientific roadblocks that have impeded our ability to find a vaccine." For example, a study released earlier this week examined efforts to produce a vaccine through genetic transfer. Regarding the study, Warren said, "It doesn't mean we have an AIDS vaccine, but it means we have an entirely new approach to trying to deliver protection."
Warren said that the field of HIV/AIDS vaccine research has shown a renewed commitment since Merck canceled its vaccine trial in 2007. According to Warren, the new AVAC report examines knowledge gained from the Merck study, which has provided "an unimaginable amount of information."
Meanwhile, the effect of the economic crisis on research funding is concerning, Warren said, adding, "I believe that every dollar spent is going to be held up to a greater scrutiny as budgets tighten and as funders have to re-examine their priorities." According to Warren, without renewed funding commitments, "we will not only incur a much greater public health catastrophe, but I would argue that the economic catastrophes to come, if we don't respond aggressively to HIV, will actually have repercussions that will ... make the economic crisis pale in comparison" (DeCapua, VOA News, 5/18).
The report is available online.