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IAVI Commends UK Government’s Commitment to Ending AIDS

November 04, 2008

LONDON, 4 November 2008—The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) applauds the UK government for strengthening its support for research into new prevention technologies to fight HIV/AIDS. During a meeting of scientists and experts convened by the UK Department for International Development, International Development Minister Gareth Thomas announced that the UK government would contribute £220 million over five years to support product development research for new tools, such as vaccines and microbicides, to stop the spread of HIV.

“Five people are infected with HIV every minute and so we must increase our efforts and increase them now,” said Thomas. “The UK Government is committed to fighting the spread of HIV and that is why we are announcing £220m for product development research. Only through research will we find new ways to halt this epidemic and I hope this funding will help discover new life-saving technology.”

“Ten years ago, the UK became the first government to support public-private partnerships through a grant made to IAVI. Today the UK government has shown that it continues to be a true leader in supporting research for new prevention technologies, such as vaccines and microbicides, to help bring an end to AIDS,” said Seth Berkley, President and CEO of IAVI. “Developing these tools will require long-term support, and sustaining this commitment is crucial, especially now during difficult financial times.”

New prevention technologies are urgently needed to stop the spread of HIV, and their development depends largely on funding from governments. Private industry, which has the expertise to develop these products, has historically shied away from investing in products for neglected diseases because the market for them is uncertain. Investment by pharmaceutical companies represents less than 10% of overall funding for AIDS vaccine research and development.

To address this gap, international partnerships for product development, also known as public-private product development partnerships (PDPs), have formed over the past decade to jumpstart the development of tools to bring an end to the world’s leading global killers, such as AIDS, TB and malaria. These partnerships employ the best practices of the private sector in order to speed the development of public goods, that is, health technologies. Today they are responsible for the majority of new tools under development to fight diseases that predominantly affect developing countries.

Founded in 1996, IAVI was the world’s first biomedical PDP. Since its inception, IAVI has helped put six novel AIDS vaccine candidates to the test in clinical trials, established major new clinical trial capacity in Africa and mobilized approximately $750 million in new funding for AIDS vaccine research.

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Founded in 1996 and operational in 24 countries, IAVI and its network of collaborators research and develop vaccine candidates.  IAVI's financial and in-kind supporters include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, The John D. Evans Foundation, The New York Community Trust, the James B. Pendleton Charitable Trust, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Starr Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the Governments of Canada, Denmark, India, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Basque Autonomous Government, the European Union as well as The City of New York, Economic Development Corporation; multilateral organizations such as The World Bank; corporate donors including BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.), Bristol-Myers Squibb, Continental Airlines, Google Inc., Henry Schein, Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., Pfizer Inc, and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.; leading AIDS charities such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Until There's A Cure Foundation; other private donors such as The Haas Trusts; and many generous individuals from around the world.  For more information, see www.iavi.org.