The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) commends the worldwide response to HIV/AIDS that generated new milestones in 2017. The local communities, governments, industry partners, and donors responsible for this success have invested resources, intellect, and compassion, and their efforts demonstrate remarkable success.
We have seen unprecedented leaps in HIV testing, greater access to antiretroviral medication, and strengthening of health care infrastructure in countries most severely affected by HIV. But however transformative these accomplishments are, an end to this epidemic remains elusive.
By furthering scientific progress on new HIV prevention tools, including vaccines, IAVI hopes to realize the end of HIV/AIDS, and its humanitarian, social, and economic consequences. In countries where HIV prevalence remains as high as 20 percent, whole segments of the population have no access to testing and treatment. In these same countries, demographic trends show a surging population between the ages of 15 and 24 – the group with the highest rate of new HIV infections. Growth in drug-resistant strains of the virus mean existing treatment may not always be able to block its replication.
On World AIDS Day 2017, IAVI calls for a sustainable commitment to innovative HIV prevention; to developing the evidence that supports a range of more effective HIV prevention tools based on the needs of different populations; to supporting multi-sectoral partnerships among governments, industry, civil society, academia, and communities affected by HIV; and to calling for a renewed sense of urgency around ending – not controlling – the epidemic.
For IAVI, that means supporting our partners in basic and clinical research, community organizing, and advocacy to ensure a robust pipeline of new prevention innovations. It means working with the world’s most vulnerable communities to understand HIV prevention from their perspectives. And it means strengthening the scientific capacity of HIV prevention researchers to tackle emerging global health challenges, returning insight and understanding to the field of HIV vaccine research.
On World AIDS Day, we reflect on the unimaginable losses of this epidemic and affirm the importance of redoubling efforts to find a scientific solution to stop HIV infection and to someday realizing an end to HIV/AIDS.