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G8 Leaders Highlight the Importance of Effectively Combating Infectious Diseases

July 17, 2006

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) commends the leaders attending the Group of Eight (G8) Summit in St. Petersburg for prioritizing global health issues in their call for increased and sustained commitment and action to combat infectious diseases. Traditionally-neglected diseases, and HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, account for millions of deaths annually.  Leaders recognized the toll that these epidemics, especially HIV/AIDS, exact on societies and economies. They reiterated their historical pledges to promote the development of new AIDS prevention technologies ― including vaccines and microbicides — as critical to the international goal of universal access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs.

Specifically, IAVI welcomes a range of shared commitments emphasized in the G8 communiqué:

» Building R&D capacity in developing countries
The G8 leaders highlighted the need to expand partnerships with developing countries. IAVI wholeheartedly concurs with the G8’s commitment to intensify research collaborations that involve scientists from developing countries in international scientific research programs. IAVI believes – and significantly invests in – partnerships that foster the strengthening of research and health care infrastructure in these countries, while accelerating the development of essential new tools such as an AIDS vaccine.

» Collaborating through the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise
During the Sea Island Summit of 2004, the G8 affirmed the need for an accelerated and more collaborative AIDS vaccine research effort and recognized the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise -- an alliance of independent entities working to solve the most pressing scientific challenges for HIV vaccines. IAVI applauds the G8’s commitment to supporting the efforts of the Enterprise partners. IAVI also notes the Russian proposal to establish a regional coordination mechanism to promote HIV vaccine development in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia and welcomes the G8 call for this initiative to be closely coordinated with the Enterprise and its members.

» Fostering contributions by Product Development Public-Private Partnerships
Building on last year’s G8 communiqué, G8 leaders this year once again recognized the crucial role played by innovative institutions such as product development public-private partnerships (PDPs) in leading the research and development (R&D) effort for neglected diseases, including HIV/AIDS. IAVI, itself a PDP, appreciates this expression of support from the G8.

» Harnessing innovative financing mechanisms
IAVI believes that the private sector – both biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies – hold critical expertise and resources that could speed the R&D of an AIDS vaccine. We welcome the G8’s support for Advance Market Commitments as an instrument that can complement the crucial “push” funding or direct subsidy of R&D efforts.

A comprehensive response to HIV demands the dramatic scale up of existing prevention, treatment and care services today and, with equal urgency, the investment in the development of better tools for the future – drugs, diagnostics and new prevention technologies, notably vaccines and microbicides. There is a particular need for a range of tools appropriate for the most vulnerable, including women and marginalized populations. IAVI will continue to work with the Governments of the G8 nations and other partners to translate this year’s G8 commitments into increased political, financial and scientific support and expanded partnerships with the developing world to accelerate the development of an AIDS vaccine. Continued bold leadership coupled with sustained and concerted action are essential to successfully turning the tide against HIV/AIDS.