A Call For Innovation - World AIDS Vaccine Day

Armen Hareyan's picture

AIDS Vaccine Day

On May 18, 1997 President Bill Clinton challenged the world to develop an AIDS vaccine within a decade, setting a "new national goal for science in the age of biology."

Ten years after Clinton's speech, an effective AIDS vaccine continues to elude us. HIV/AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide and poses a serious threat to the economic and political stability of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. But we are making important strides in finding an effective vaccine, and as HIV continues to outpace the global response, developing an AIDS vaccine remains one of the greatest public health and social imperatives facing the world today.

For every person who receives life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ARVs), seven others become newly infected. Only 28 percent of HIV-infected individuals in the developing world have access to ARVs, and the long-term costs of treatment and care escalate rapidly each year. UNAIDS conservatively estimates that between US $5.6 and US $6.9 billion will be required over the next two years to fund AIDS treatment and care in the developing world alone.


"Ten years ago the AIDS vaccine effort was languishing," stated Seth Berkley, President and CEO, IAVI. "Today, new players, vigor and commitment have enabled IAVI and the field to effectively overcome huge barriers. We still have a distance to travel before we can realize President Clinton's objective, but I am confident that we will get there, if our best scientific minds work together on this enormous problem, and world leaders and their communities back our important efforts."

Since 1997, funding for AIDS vaccines has quadrupled, and political support for vaccines has grown tremendously. In addition, the field has made advances in its understanding of HIV and ways to design an effective vaccine against it. New consortia are aggressively examining crucial scientific questions, and nearly 20,000 volunteers are currently committed to advancing AIDS vaccine research in more than 30 vaccine trials across two dozen countries worldwide. In 2007, we saw the start of Africa's first large-scale AIDS vaccine efficacy trial involving 3,000 volunteers in South Africa.

"The global community cannot afford to wait another decade to find better HIV prevention technologies. Significant shifts in the way research and development initiatives are funded, organized and conducted are needed so that we can shorten the timeline to a vaccine against AIDS," said Berkley.

Today, ten years after President Clinton's address, IAVI calls for:

-- Increased innovation for the design of new and improved AIDS vaccine concepts