The following guest post from IAVI President and CEO Margaret McGlynn, AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe comes on the release of Investing to End the AIDS Epidemic: A New Era for HIV Research & Development, a report from the HIV Vaccine & Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group.
Close to 25,000 scientists, policymakers and advocates from around the world are gathering here in Washington, DC, USA, this week for the 2012 International AIDS Conference, where much of the discussion will be about how we can end the AIDS pandemic. The fact that these conversations will be based not just on hope but on real scientific progress proves how far we’ve come and how much we’ve learned in the struggle against AIDS over the last decade. Unprecedented public and private commitments to HIV prevention, treatment and care over the last 10 years have saved the lives of millions of men, women and children.
Now more than ever we can see the path that leads to the end of the AIDS pandemic. Researchers, policymakers, funders and advocates alike have long understood that new prevention options need be developed and made widely accessible to truly turn the tide on AIDS. Recent years have brought amazing breakthroughs in HIV prevention research. If prevention research were a business, now would be the time to invest.
A decade ago our organizations launched the HIV Vaccine & Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group in response to a call in the 2001 UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS to track investments toward new tools and strategies for HIV prevention. Our data show that donors have remained committed to advancing research and development of new prevention tools to support a broader and more effective response to the HIV pandemic.
The Working Group’s latest report, Investing to End the AIDS Epidemic: A New Era for HIV Research & Development, documents 2011 research investments in preventive and therapeutic HIV vaccines, cure research, microbicide development, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and operations research to support implementation of such evidence-based interventions as the prevention of vertical transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision and the use of antiretroviral therapies for HIV prevention. The report also looks back over a decade of mostly increasing investments that have made a number of key scientific advances possible and continue to fuel progress toward more effective biomedical approaches and improved implementation of existing prevention tools.
Most of the US$1.24 billion invested in new HIV prevention tools in 2011 came from dedicated public sector donors, especially the United States government. While funding for HIV prevention R&D saw a slight drop from the previous year, we acknowledge that difficult economic times have shrunk many public sector budgets. We laud funders and advocates for acknowledging the potential value of these tools through continued support and long-term vision. The prevention of HIV contributes to healthier populations and can save precious funds for other vital health and development needs.
We are excited about how far HIV prevention research and development will go over the next decade, and we’re grateful for the continued support of committed donors in difficult economic times. Yet, capitalizing on exciting science will require stabilized funding to be supplemented as new breakthroughs move us toward effective new tools. We are concerned that staying the course might not be enough.
The field will need sustained support for research across the development pipeline—from the basic scientific research that underpins new approaches to HIV prevention, to the translation of that research into candidate products and new strategies, to the costly large-scale trials that evaluate the safety and efficacy of promising products. Ending the AIDS pandemic requires us to think big and to think strategically. Join us in supporting the exciting science that will help make ending the AIDS pandemic a reality.
Margaret McGlynn, President and CEO, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
Michel Sidibe, Executive Director, UNAIDS
Mitchell Warren, Executive Director, AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention