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IAVI Commends United Nations Declaration of Commitment to HIV/AIDS; However Some Crucial Issues Left Unaddressed

June 27, 2001

NEW YORK, 27 June 2001—Seth Berkley, M.D., President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), today issued the following statement in response to the UN General Assembly approval of a Declaration of Commitment to HIV/AIDS:

"The International AIDS Vaccines Initiative applauds the United Nations General Assembly for reaching consensus on a Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. This new milestone in international collaboration represents a long-needed first step toward building a successful global response to the epidemic. Many individuals from government and civil society have worked diligently to make this declaration strong and inclusive and we salute their efforts.

Strong support for R&D

"With respect to AIDS vaccines, the final Declaration is a vast improvement from earlier drafts, and includes a strong political commitment to accelerate research and development, especially for preventive technologies. IAVI welcomes the establishment of a Global Health Fund. But the Fund must be complemented by efforts to advance vaccine R&D through a variety of bilateral and multilateral mechanisms, including national vaccine research programs, public-private partnerships and tax incentives.

Need for greater commitment to finance vaccine access

"The final Declaration still lacks a firm commitment to providing AIDS vaccines to all who need them without delay. This represents a missed opportunity for the nations of the world to provide incentives for much needed private sector investment in vaccine research and development, and to enable governments and communities to prepare effectively for rapid vaccine introduction.

"We recommend that the Global Health Fund will be used as a vehicle to address vaccines access now. IAVI calls for a specific AIDS vaccination sub-account, linked to strong commitments for future financing, within this Fund. No funds would be required now, but the creation of an account would send a signal to the private sector that there will be a market for their investments in AIDS vaccine research, and will signal to the global community a commitment to learn from the world's failure to plan for equitable and timely delivery of AIDS treatments.

Vulnerable groups

"When an AIDS vaccine is available, it must be provided to those who are most at risk, including vulnerable groups such as commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men and injection drug users. Governments and others working with current prevention and treatment efforts and those looking ahead to future interventions, such as vaccines, must acknowledge the need to specifically work with these groups.

"This Declaration represents an important step in bringing world leaders together to confront the AIDS epidemic. As discussions continue on the Global Health Fund, IAVI calls on the nations of the world to increase their commitments to treatment, prevention, mitigation of the consequences of the epidemic and to long-term goals, such as vaccines, as critical but not competing elements of a strategic approach to managing—and ultimately ending—the pandemic."

About IAVI
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is an international non-profit scientific organization founded in 1996 whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. IAVI is a collaborating center of UNAIDS. IAVI's major supporters include the Bill & Melinda Gates, Rockefeller, Sloan and Starr Foundations; the World Bank; and governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and the United States.