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On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day AVAC Calls For Continued Commitment to HIV Vaccine Research

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 General News J E 4
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Argues AIDS vaccine research is a key part of the HIV prevention revolution

NEW YORK, May 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This year HIV Vaccine Awareness Day comes at the dawn of a true prevention revolution that could finally turn the tide of the AIDS epidemic. AIDS vaccine research is a critical part of that revolution and on this day AVAC calls on donors, policy makers and others to strengthen support for AIDS vaccine research.

"This is an exciting time in HIV prevention research. In the last year we've seen positive results from three trials that show the promise of antiretroviral drugs to prevent as well as treat HIV," said Mitchell Warren, AVAC executive director. "At the same time, it is important that the progress in the search for an AIDS vaccine not be over-looked. Global plans, funding agendas and advocacy strategies for HIV must include HIV vaccine research."

"Even as we plan for eventual roll out of the ARV-based prevention strategies that have been proven effective – pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP for gay and bisexual men and early treatment of HIV-positive people to help reduce the risk of transmission to their sexual partners – we cannot and must not lose sight of the importance of AIDS vaccines," Warren added. "We know that truly effective prevention incorporates a broad range of different tools and strategies and that, historically, vaccines have been the most powerful epidemic-ending tools ever deployed."

The result from the Thai prime-boost vaccine trial (RV144) remains key evidence that an AIDS vaccine is possible. Results from follow-up research on this strategy are due later this year and may explain why some people were protected by the vaccine combination used in the trial.  Other research to help understand the result is ongoing, including collaboration among research agencies, academic institutions and industry that seeks to confirm and extend the RV144 results with a trial sequence that includes the goal of developing a licensable vaccine.  In addition, other promising HIV vaccine research strategies are underway in early stage trials and in pre-clinical research.

This year on this HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, AVAC calls for the field to:

  • Launch and expand consultations in countries and communities where new vaccine trials will take place. These consultations should address how trials will be designed and how information about ARVs as prevention will be communicated to trial participants.
  • Maintain and communicate the goals, timelines and clinical trial plans for a broad range of new approaches including novel candidates showing promise in animal models and the extensive, ongoing work on neutralizing antibodies.
  • Act on the imperative to pursue and explore research around the possible interaction and combination of a vaccine with other novel biomedical prevention tools.
  • Prevent delays in moving promising research forward; secure sufficient resources; and provide good stewardship for these resources to ensure that duplication is minimized and projects are advanced and jettisoned on the basis of a shared, coherent vision.

"The global response to AIDS is at a critical turning point. Thirty years since the disease was identified, science presents us with new knowledge and, more importantly, new opportunities," Warren added. "We now have a combination of new and emerging HIV treatment and prevention options that allow us talk about an end of AIDS in our lifetimes. Now we must act that way."

More information about AIDS Vaccine research is available at www.avac.org/vaccines.

Founded in 1995, AVAC is a non-profit organization that uses education, policy analysis, advocacy and a network of global collaborations to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of AIDS vaccines, male circumcision, microbicides, PrEP and other emerging HIV prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the pandemic. More information at www.avac.org

SOURCE AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition

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