With the United States funding 70 percent of the world’s research and development of biomedical answers to HIV prevention, progress that has yielded the potential for immediate advances against the global epidemic is in danger of stalling, with lasting consequences, according to a report released at the International AIDS Society conference in Kuala Lumpur this week.
From Research to Reality, Investing in HIV Prevention Research in a Challenging Landscape examines investments, outcomes and next steps in HIV vaccine and microbicide research, antiretroviral treatment as prevention, pre-exposure prophylactic use of antiretroviral drugs, medical circumcision, as well as other biomedical prevention approaches.
While science in those fields have driven a push in the last year to attain “an AIDS-free Generation,” and supported a belief that the HIV epidemic can be ended, global funding for research has essentially flat-lined in the last year, while the challenge of an estimated 2.5 million HIV infections a year continues. At the same time, while research has confirmed the possibility that a vaccine that effectively prevents HIV acquisition can be developed, and the potential for pre-exposure antiretroviral drugs to stem new infections, disappointing trial results in both fields have highlighted needs for further research and provided focus for directions. At this pivotal point in HIV prevention research, the report says, five percent across-the-board funding cuts resulting from legislators’ failure to reach budget agreements could starve HIV prevention research efforts through the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Military HIV Research Program.
“These budget cuts,” the report says, “would not only impact US funding for HIV prevention R&D in 2013, but are likely to have negative reverberations for years to come.”
They also underscore a need to diversify and build research and development funding sources through partnerships between governments as well as private entities and philanthropies, the report says. The report, which includes graphics illustrating not only current funding sources, but research involvement through trial participation, concludes the potential of more productive partnerships exists.