Calls for Sustained Funding to Maintain HIV Prevention Research Efforts
Mexico City, August 5, 2008 – A new report released today shows that funding for biomedical HIV prevention research and development (R&D), including AIDS vaccines and microbicides, increased dramatically between 2000 and 2006 with only a modest increase in 2007. The report warns that the challenge going forward will be to sustain the necessary financial commitment to maintain an efficient and focused research effort and rapidly capitalize on what researchers have learned thus far.
The report, Sustaining the HIV Prevention Research Agenda: Funding for Research and Development of HIV Vaccines, Microbicides and Other New Prevention Options (2000 –2007), was released at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City by the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group. It is available online atwww.hivresourcetracking.org.
According to the annual report – which reviews funding from governments, private philanthropy and industry – the total 2007 global investment in HIV vaccine R&D was $961 million and total investment in microbicides was $226.5 million, representing a 2 to 3 percent increase in funding from 2006 to 2007, but a tripling of funding over 2000 levels.
In addition, the Working Group documented approximately $53.4 million in R&D investment in 2007 for R&D for adult male circumcision, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) suppression, cervical barriers and pre-exposure prophylaxis using antiretroviral drugs (PrEP). Global investments in R&D for these approaches has equaled $208 million since 2001, which do not include much of the expensive pre-clinical and product development efforts involved in vaccine and microbicide research.
“We’ve seen an incredible scale up of funding for vaccine, microbicide, and other HIV prevention research over the past eight years,” said Mitchell Warren, Executive Director of AVAC, which serves as the secretariat of the Working Group. “This funding invigorated the field and allowed researchers to move critical projects and clinical trials forward. Going forward it is essential that funders remain committed to HIV prevention research.”
“Results in recent microbicide and vaccine trials have led a few critics to suggest rethinking government funding for biomedical prevention research. This report argues that support from all sectors will be needed as we continue the search for all potentially effective new HIV prevention options,” said Polly Harrison, Director of the Alliance for Microbicide Development. “Government funding and government programs have given us important advances in prevention research and remain critical for moving HIV prevention research and development forward.”
“The AIDS epidemic continues to ravage communities around the world. We desperately need new prevention options, such as vaccines and microbicides, to help people remain uninfected," said Holly Wong, acting Vice President for Policy of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. "HIV prevention research is an essential investment. Funding for the development of these new tools must be sustained and spent strategically.”
The report prioritizes four key activities for supporting continued investment in HIV prevention research, including:
- Sustain momentum in HIV prevention R&D investment. Scientific challenges must not affect continued funding and scale up of R&D efforts. Sustained funding for vaccine, microbicides and other HIV prevention research is needed as researchers explore new approaches to vaccine and microbicide design, bring novel candidates to the pipeline and investigate other prevention options.
- Increase accountability by efficiently linking research and funding to scientific priorities. The HIV prevention community must ensure that R&D activities are focused on key priorities and not duplicative of other efforts.
- Support an expanded toolbox of new prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the epidemic. A comprehensive plan to combat the epidemic requires investment in a wide range of more effective methods of prevention to complement expanding access to existing HIV treatment and prevention options.
- Develop and validate estimates of future HIV prevention R&D investment need. Funders, policy-makers, civil society and researchers should jointly develop an updated, data-driven, comprehensive assessment of investment needs for HIV prevention research. Projected funding requirements can be used as a tool to determine gaps when measured against real-world spending and support greater accountability by tying spending to investment needs.
“The world desperately needs new HIV prevention options to help stop new HIV infections. Funding research and development of new vaccines and microbicides must remain a priority as we scale up towards universal access to HIV prevention and treatment,” said Jose Antonio Izazola, the Chief of the AIDS Financing and Economics Division of UNAIDS.
“With nearly three new infections occurring for every single person put on treatment, the potential lifesaving benefits of vaccines and microbicides make the investment worthwhile. Funding at all stages of R&D – from basic research to efficacy trials – must remain a global priority.”
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The HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group was established in 2004 to generate and disseminate high-quality, detailed and comparable data on annual investments in preventive HIV vaccine and microbicide research and development (R&D), and policy and advocacy activities. These data can be used to monitor current levels of effort; identify trends in investment, spending, and research focus; identify areas needing more resources and effort; assess the impact of public policies aimed at increasing investment in new prevention options; and provide a fact base for policy advocacy on R&D investments and allocations. The Working Group is comprised of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), the Alliance for Microbicide Development (AMD), the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). More information is available at https://www.hivresourcetracking.org.