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New Options Needed to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS

June 24, 2004

DUBLIN, 24 June 2004— Today’s EU meeting in Dublin on new HIV/AIDS prevention technologies marks a new chapter in the EU’s response to HIV – one that is premised on a commitment to a truly comprehensive and sustained response. The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) welcome the EU’s role in advancing the research and development of AIDS vaccines and microbicides to prevent HIV/AIDS.

“The promise of new prevention technologies can hardly be overstated,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, MD, President and CEO of IAVI. “An effective AIDS vaccine promises to end the epidemic. A 50 percent effective vaccine, given to two third of the adult population, could reduce infections up to 60 percent. This would reverse the course of a disease that is expected to take 70 million lives by 2020.”

According to a recent report from the Rockefeller Foundation, even a partially effective microbicide could prevent 2.5 million HIV infections over three years, and provide hope to millions of women, who now make up 60 percent of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa

“Currently, AIDS vaccines candidates and microbicides are being tested and clinical infrastructure is being built. With sufficient resources and a collaborative approach, a safe and effective microbicide could be a reality within the next five to ten years,” said Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, Sc.D. Chief Executive Officer of IPM. “We salute the EU countries for promoting new prevention technologies and Ireland and the Netherlands for hosting this conference.”

As with vaccines, microbicides, in the form of gels, creams or vaginal rings, could be used by women to protect themselves from HIV. Women are socially and biologically more vulnerable to HIV, and as a result account for almost 60 percent of new infections in subSaharan Africa.

IAVI and IPM believe that the EU can help advance AIDS vaccine and microbicide development by putting in place incentives and other measures to stimulate greater participation of public and private sector actors in all stages of the research pipeline. Urgent policy and legislative changes are also needed to bring about a regulatory environment that can facilitate early access to new products, an area that requires EU action and one where the EU can play a leadership role.

The Dublin conference, which was co-hosted by the Irish and upcoming Dutch EU Presidency, concluded the meeting with agreement on key priority actions:

  • To focus on the level of investment needed to discover, prove effective and make available a preventive AIDS vaccine and microbicides;
  • To strengthen key partnerships in the field of preventive technologies; and
  • To support developing country partners to prepare for microbicide and AIDS vaccine clinical trials and eventual use of effective products.

About IAVI

IAVI is a global not-for-profit organization working to accelerate the development of a preventive AIDS vaccine. Founded in 1996 and operational in 23 countries, IAVI and its network of collaborators research and develop vaccine candidates. IAVI also works to assure that a vaccine will be accessible to everyone who needs it. IAVI’s major financial supporters include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Rockefeller, Sloan and Starr foundations; the World Bank; BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.); the European Union; and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

About IPM

The International Partnership for Microbicides was established in 2002 to accelerate the discovery, development and accessibility of microbicides to prevent transmission of HIV for women in developing countries. The organization's goal is to improve the efficiency of all efforts to deliver a safe and effective microbicide as soon as possible. IPN draws financial support from the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank and UNFPA.