Flexible, agile and generous funding structures needed to ensure development and delivery of lifesaving new options for HIV prevention
ROME July 19, 2011—In the last year, promising trial results and critical scientific breakthroughs have changed the HIV prevention landscape, providing new opportunities for both a broader response to the epidemic with new prevention options and broader clinical and laboratory agendas with new research targets. At the same time, investment in biomedical HIV prevention research remained stable despite the effects of the recent global economic downturn, according to a new report released today in Rome at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.
Capitalizing on Scientific Progress: Investment in HIV Prevention R&D in 2010 is the seventh annual report from the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group documenting investments in biomedical HIV prevention research from public, philanthropic and commercial sectors. This year's report argues that capitalizing on recent promising scientific breakthroughs will require substantial additional and sustained investment from a broader set of donors.
The major, and surprising finding of the report, given the global funding environment, is that overall investment in HIV prevention R&D had actually increased, with the modest exception of a one percent decline in vaccine R&D. The report documented a total US$1.19 billion investment in research and development (R&D) for four key HIV prevention options: preventive vaccines, microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) using antiretroviral drugs, and operations research related to medical male circumcision. Even in the aftermath of a global recession, this investment approached the previous historical high of US$1.23 billion reached in 2007 for these four prevention technologies.
Yet to capitalize on the recent exciting prevention breakthroughs being discussed at the IAS conference, more investment will be needed across prevention technologies and from bench research to operational and implementation research.
"Certainly in this era of economic restraint it is good news that donors continue to see the value of investing in prevention research," said Paul DeLay, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. "But as we capitalize on the recent breakthroughs and move quickly to make new forms of prevention available to those who need them most, we need donors to also move quickly to ensure that funding shortfalls do not become roadblocks."
There is an urgent need to direct resources to accelerate promise into progress. Yet the report recognized that funders continue to confront budgetary constraints, with some having reduced or eliminated their HIV prevention research programs altogether. Funding for HIV prevention research also remains highly concentrated among relatively few funders, and the Working Group warns that this narrow base of funding will threaten the sustainable research effort required at this critical time and highlights the need for broadening that base, importantly including emerging economies.
"The recent promising results of PrEP and treatment as prevention trials tell us that thirty years into the epidemic we may finally be on the path to ending AIDS," said Mitchell Warren, AVAC executive director. "New prevention options - medical male circumcision, PrEP, microbicides and eventually vaccines - will play a critical role in reducing the cycle of new infections. As we look toward the next 30 years of AIDS, investment in prevention research has never been more important. Going forward we need funding structures that are flexible, agile, and generous enough to adapt rapidly to new opportunities."
"We have seen tremendous progress in HIV prevention research over the last two years," said Margaret McGlynn, President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). "Sustaining the momentum built through these advances depends on access to stable funding that can be flexibly applied to the most promising areas of research. This will allow us to build upon the field's successes and to move promising concepts from the pipeline into clinical trials as swiftly as possible."
"The recent exciting results in the PrEP and microbicide fields are proof that investment in HIV prevention research is bringing women and men around the world much closer to having a broad range of effective HIV prevention options," said Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM). "Wise investments now in laboratory and clinical research, and in efforts to roll out new interventions will pay off as HIV infections decline significantly in the coming decades."
The report is available online at: www.hivresourcetracking.org.
The Working Group is composed of AVAC, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).