Annual Tracking Report Reveals Increase in HIV Prevention R&D Resources, Need to Sustain Scientific Momentum
As organizations dedicated to the development of new HIV prevention technologies, we are firmly aware that advances in research and development cannot be made without good scientific data. In the past two years, results streaming in from clinical trials have provided more evidence than ever that a number of HIV prevention strategies – including preventive vaccines, microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the early initiation of antiretroviral treatment in persons infected by HIV — could all eventually be added to a comprehensive effort that will ultimately end the AIDS pandemic. In addition, promising early-stage research has given us clues on how to improve on these results while forging new paths to crucial breakthroughs. At no time in the 30 years since AIDS was identified has there been so much scientific momentum in acquiring new, powerful tools to prevent HIV infection.
We also know that we need good data about investments being made on HIV prevention research to assist donors, policymakers and advocates in understanding funding trends and their potential implications. Today, the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group, comprised of our four organizations, released its seventh annual report on HIV prevention R&D funding, titled Capitalizing on Scientific Progress: Investment in HIV Prevention R&D in 2010.
New funding data for 2010 reveal that even in the context of the recent global recession, research funding for four key HIV prevention options – preventive vaccines, microbicides, PrEP and operations research related to medical male circumcision -totaled US$1.19 billion, approaching the historical high of $1.23 billion reached in 2007 for these four research areas. The total represents an overall gain in HIV prevention R&D investment compared with 2009, with only vaccine R&D showing a modest one percent decline.
The uptick in funding is certainly good news, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Transforming promising concepts into products will continue to require substantial investments over the coming years that can be quickly and flexibly applied to best take advantage of new developments.
More ominously in a time of austerity, any funding reductions by the current small pool of donors to HIV prevention R&D, such as the United States and a number of European governments, could have a disproportionate impact on the field and severely disrupt recent scientific momentum. Sustained commitments from these donors are key to advancing the field. At the same time, a more diversified base of funders, perhaps from emerging economies and a new generation of philanthropic supporters, is needed to ensure the long-term stability of the HIV prevention R&D field.
Working Group member UNAIDS took advantage of the recent United Nations High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS to declare the goal of “zero new infections,” a target that can best be achieved with a comprehensive set of HIV prevention tools appropriate for a variety of situations and populations. Funding data in recent years speak to the commitment of donors to this crucial effort. However, capitalizing on the current momentum in HIV prevention R&D will require both sustained and increased commitment.
We invite you to read the entire report, Capitalizing on Scientific Progress: Investment in HIV Prevention R&D in 2010 at: http://www.hivresourcetracking.org/
By: Margaret McGlynn, President and Chief Executive Officer, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative,
Zeda Rosenberg, Chief Executive Officer, International Partnership for Microbicides, and
Mitchell Warren, Executive Director, AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention