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The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Launches Southern African Programme

November 21, 2006

IAVI's New Office in Johannesburg to Coordinate AIDS Vaccine R&D and Advocacy in the Region

(New York and Johannesburg, South Africa, November 21, 2006) — The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a global public-private partnership working to accelerate the development of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS, announced the launch of  its new Southern African programme today to support expanding R&D and advocacy efforts in the region. IAVI, with offices in Nairobi, New Delhi, Amsterdam and New York, will open a bureau in Johannesburg, South Africa to work more effectively with Southern African partners.

Since 1998, IAVI has been collaborating with African scientists to study promising AIDS vaccine candidates, and has conducted eight clinical trials on the continent.  The organization is currently partnering with local organizations in South Africa and Zambia to test the safety and immunogenicity of a preventive AIDS vaccine candidate based on the most prevalent HIV subtype in Southern Africa.

"Southern Africa, with its growing biomedical capabilities, strong manufacturing base and scientific talent, can make an important contribution to the global search for an AIDS vaccine — the best hope of ending the AIDS pandemic," said Seth Berkley, president and CEO of IAVI. "South Africa was one of the first governments in the world to understand the importance of new AIDS prevention technologies, establishing the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) to coordinate the research and testing of HIV candidates. We look forward to deepening our relationship with SAAVI and other organizations in the region to find viable solutions to the AIDS crisis."

IAVI's Southern African Programme will provide integrated support to the organization's expanding activities in the region. The new bureau will work closely with existing partners such as SAAVI, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, the Zambia-Emory HIV Research Project (ZEHRP), the Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA) and the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), to gather epidemiological data, encourage scientific and informational exchanges and  strengthen health infrastructure and channels for delivering future AIDS vaccines.  IAVI also hopes to establish new collaborative partnerships and enlist the help of political leadership, non-governmental organizations and community groups to reinforce support for AIDS vaccines and HIV prevention methods.

Dr. Valeria Manda, a native of Zambia, will direct IAVI’s Southern Africa office.  Prior to working with IAVI, she was posted with the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland working on HIV/AIDS issues.

"South Africa has demonstrated a commitment to IAVI’s mission by generously hosting us here in Johannesburg, by approving and conducting clinical trials, and by contributing the highest domestic expenditure in Africa to HIV/AIDS.  My vision is a vibrant Southern Africa that is HIV free.  To achieve this, we need regional collaboration that brings together diverse partners from South Africa and other countries to create the enabling environment for continued progress on AIDS vaccines," said Dr. Manda.

"The office will oversee our programs in Southern Africa and help us to strengthen our work with groups in Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and other countries in the region," concluded Berkley.  "With help from our local partners, we will continue to invest in R&D, build capacity to conduct clinical trials to the highest standards, advocate for public policies that would make AIDS vaccines a political and economic priority and ensure immediate access to those most in need once a vaccine is available."

About IAVI 
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 23 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 John D. Evans Foundation, The New York Community Trust, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Starr Foundation; the Governments of Canada, Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Basque Autonomous Government as well as the European Union; multilateral organizations such as The World Bank; corporate donors including BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.), Continental Airlines, Google Inc., Merck & Co., Inc. and Pfizer Inc; leading AIDS charities such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Crusaid, Deutsche AIDS-Stiftung, and Until There's A Cure Foundation; other private donors such as The Haas Trusts; and many generous individuals from around the world.