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IAVI and the Joaquim Chissano Foundation Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Strengthen AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Efforts in Southern Africa

June 20, 2007

New Initiative Builds on the Work of Global Political Advocacy Initiative

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Maputo-based Joaquim Chissano Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today as part of their efforts to build on a global coalition to speed the development of an AIDS vaccine, which can save millions of lives in Africa. The proposed partnership agreement, signed by former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano and IAVI CEO Dr. Seth Berkley at IAVI’s regional office in Johannesburg, will enable the two organizations to expand their joint advocacy and work to improve government support for AIDS vaccines in Southern Africa and elsewhere.

“We Africans are the main victims of this disease; we know how it impacts our lives today and are aware of how it will affect our common future,” said President Chissano. “Therefore, we are all challenged to also be part of the solution, by participating in the efforts to develop an effective vaccine. The Joaquim Chissano Foundation is happy to be associated with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in this effort of mobilizing the much-needed political and financial commitment. Together we will succeed.”

“If we are to curb the AIDS pandemic, top regional and international leaders must commit to promoting critical long-term AIDS prevention technologies,” said Dr. Berkley. “As the former leader of Mozambique and now head of his own foundation, President Chissano has been a strong voice for AIDS vaccines on the global stage. We are proud his organization is joining us in our global efforts to accelerate research and product development and ensure rapid access to a future vaccine which can end the pandemic.”

Chissano will join the ranks of other senior statesmen of the Global Political Advocacy Initiative (GPAI)—an alliance of countries in the South advocating for AIDS vaccines. GPAI is already active in India, South Africa, Brazil, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda, and is building on the India-Brazil-South Africa trilateral agreement which encourages the three countries to cooperate on vaccine development using their growing biomedical and manufacturing capabilities.

Under the IAVI-Chissano Foundation MOU, Chissano will promote AIDS vaccines in 2007at high-level regional and global forums to mobilize and sustain political commitments in support of research and development. On a country level, IAVI and the Foundation will also work to sustain political support and foster research and supportive public policies to accelerate the development of AIDS vaccines in Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and other neighboring countries. IAVI’s teams in Southern and East Africa and in its New York headquarters will provide technical and advocacy support to the Chissano Foundation.

The ever-growing severity of HIV/AIDS in Africa highlights the need for such AIDS vaccine advocacy partnerships, and the importance of regional leadership. Southern Africa is the global epicenter of the AIDS pandemic — nearly one in three people infected with HIV globally live in this region. In recent years, political support for new AIDS prevention technologies has grown. Yet challenges remain, including lack of awareness and inadequate financing for research and development, limited human resource capacity and infrastructure to conduct vaccine trials, and a narrow pipeline of vaccine candidates.

“I hope to see an AIDS-free Africa within my lifetime, but for this to happen the level of political and financial commitment must expand and be sustained for many years,” said Valerie Manda, Regional Director of IAVI’s Southern Africa office. “This new partnership with the Chissano Foundation is a highly significant and extremely welcome addition to our ongoing advocacy activities in Southern Africa.”