`Funds needed to capitalise on HIV breakthroughs`
London: A higher and more sustained investment is urgently required to capitalise on the latest breakthroughs in HIV prevention, a report says.
Funding for HIV prevention research also remains highly concentrated among relatively few donors, which could threaten the sustainable research effort required at this critical time, warned the AIDS Working Group in Rome.
The Working Group, which raised these concerns in its seventh annual report, also highlights the need for broadening that base, with a plea to include emerging economies.
Significantly, investment in HIV prevention research has remained stable, virtually untouched by the effects of the recent global recession, the report said, released early this week at the sixth International AIDS Society Conference (IAS) on HIV in Rome.
"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 capitalise 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," DeLay said, according to an IAS press release.
The document showed a total $1.19 billion investment in research and development for four key HIV prevention options -- preventive vaccines, microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP or prevention) using anti-retroviral drugs, and research bearing on male circumcision.
In fact, this investment is just shy of the previous historical high of $1.23 billion in 2007 for these four prevention technologies, said the report.
"The recent promising results of PrEP (prevention) and treatment as prevention trials tell us that 30 years into the epidemic, we may finally be on the path to ending AIDS," said Mitchell Warren, executive director, AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC).
"We have seen tremendous progress in HIV prevention research over the last two years," said Margaret McGlynn, president and chief executive officer 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," said McGlynn.
The AIDS Working Group comprises AVAC, IAVI, the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) and UNAIDS.