A shift in priorities is blamed for the
first ever decline in funding for AIDS vaccine research. The finding appears in
a report published Monday called Adapting
to Realities: Trends in HIV Prevention Research Funding 2000 to 2008.
study was released in Cape Town, South Africa, at the 5th
International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and
Prevention. It was put out by the HIV
Vaccine and Microbicide Resource Tracking Working Group, which includes the
AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), the International AIDS Vaccine
Initiative (IAVI), UNAIDS and others.
Warren, head of AVAC, is attending the conference in Cape Town.
have been for the last eight years tracking investments in AIDS vaccines," he
says. "We've seen steady gains year by year…. But 2008 represents the first
time that there's been a decrease in investment, specifically in preventive HIV
for AIDS vaccine research has declined, according to the report, dropping from
around $930 million to $870 million.
biggest decline actually comes from the pharmaceutical sector, the commercial
investment," he says.
has been a leader in AIDS vaccine research funding in the commercial
sector. However, one of its vaccine
candidates fared poorly in trials in 2007.
they are still very much involved in the effort to understand why it didn't
work…they're not making the kind of financial investments that they had
previously," he says.
the decline in funding from Merck, there's been a shift toward basic science
a great deal of work to try to understand why the Merck vaccine didn't work and
how to make better vaccines…. But that tends to happen in more of the basic
science and pre-clinical research," he says.
Positives and negatives
a realignment point of view, in terms of funding shifting from product
development to basic science, it's exactly the right kind of thing that needs
to happen…. The bad thing is the change in funding amounts. We need to ensure
that when products don't work we don't see downturns in funding," he says.
Warren says there has been an increase
in funding for microbicides and the use of anti-retroviral drugs as preventive
measures. Microbicides are gels or creams that could be used as preventive to
HIV infection during sex. But so far, no
product has proven effective. As for the
anti-retroviral drugs, they might be used by HIV-negative people to prevent