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IAVI CEO Testifies on AIDS Vaccines Before U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

June 23, 2005

(WASHINGTON, D.C., Thursday, 23 June 2005)  -- The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) was one of three leading organizations in the AIDS vaccine field to testify today at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on AIDS vaccines.  The hearing, led by Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN), discussed the AIDS pandemic and the urgent need for a preventive AIDS vaccine. 

It also explored possible legislative initiatives to accelerate the development of an AIDS vaccine and comes two weeks before the G8 summit, where world leaders will likely discuss AIDS vaccines among other critical development issues.

Seth Berkley, MD, President and CEO of IAVI, praised the United States' leadership in the global response to HIV/AIDS and urged its continued engagement.  He called for expanded AIDS treatment in countries hardest hit by the disease, while underscoring the need for preventive strategies.

“The focus on the short-term emergency is critical, but without better tools we will not be able to end this terrible epidemic.  And that must be our goal: to have an effective long-term strategy, including an AIDS vaccine,” said Dr. Berkley.

IAVI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and its other partners in the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise - an alliance of organizations involved in AIDS vaccine R&D - are committed to advancing AIDS vaccine research and collaborating with the best scientists around the world.

Developing an AIDS vaccine that would be applicable and accessible worldwide will require greater collaboration between the public and private sectors.  Dr. Berkley also called for more incentives to harness the expertise of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.  He cited the recently-announced collaboration between IAVI and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals to develop a promising new technology as an example of such innovative global partnerships.

Dr. Helene Gayle of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health also testified about the state of global AIDS vaccine research efforts.  In addition, actress Ashley Judd testified about her work as Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS.

Representative Peter Visclosky (D-IN) presented H. Res. 286, a companion bill to Senator Lugar’s S. 42 resolution, which notes that IAVI has been an effective and positive force in the development of an HIV vaccine. The United States, along with the European Union and seven other governments from around the world, has supported IAVI and its efforts to research and develop an AIDS vaccine.  

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization working to accelerate the development of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. Founded in 1996 and operational in 23 countries, IAVI and its network of collaborators research and develop vaccine candidates.  IAVI also advocates for a vaccine to be a global priority and works to assure that a future vaccine will be accessible to all who need it.  IAVI's financial and in-kind supporters include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan and Starr Foundations; the Governments of Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States; multilateral organizations such as the World Bank; corporate donors including BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.), Continental Airlines and DHL; leading AIDS charities such as Crusaid, Deutsche AIDS Stiftung, and the Until There's A Cure Foundation; and other private donors such as the Phoebe W. Haas Charitable Trust B.   For more information, see www.iavi.org.