May 18, 2001
18 May marks the annual observance of World AIDS Vaccine Day, as activists and concerned citizens worldwide call for a concerted global effort to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent AIDS and assure they will be available to all who need them.
"A preventive vaccine is the best hope for ending AIDS for all time," said Seth Berkley, M.D., President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a nonprofit organization working to speed the search for vaccines and assure global access. "AIDS is a global emergency, and it demands a coordinated, comprehensive response. All countries must redouble their commitment to existing prevention methods and expand access to treatments for AIDS. In addition, the world needs an AIDS vaccine."
Twenty years since AIDS was first identified, what has slowed progress in developing vaccines has not been scientific challenges so much as lack of commitment to the cause. "Promising vaccine candidates have languished in the laboratory for want of funding and interest," Dr. Berkley said. "If we are to end the epidemic, we must marshal our resources to find a preventive vaccine."
Since 1997, 18 May has been marked as World AIDS Vaccine Day. On 18 May 1997, former US President Bill Clinton challenged the world to find an AIDS vaccine within 10 years.