Advocates and researchers at a panel discussion on Thursday called for an increase in funding for and a renewal of efforts to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Panelists at the forum, which was sponsored by the Caucus for Evidence-Based Prevention and the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, said that continued declines in funding from public and private institutions would severely undermine HIV/AIDS vaccine research.
AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren cited a recent headline in a Kenyan newspaper that read, "HIV Research Hits a Dead-End," adding, "In many ways that headline isn't entirely wrong; we have hit some barriers." Warren also referenced AVAC's latest annual report on HIV vaccine research efforts, saying, "The reality is there's a lot to be looking at; there's a lot to be planning for."
Panelists also emphasized the importance of a comprehensive strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. They used the metaphor of a "basket" or a "toolbox" of mechanisms to point out that there is no one universal approach to eliminating the disease. "We need to continue to ... have the discussion that there is no such thing as a magic bullet," Carl Dieffenbach, director of the division of AIDS at NIH, said. However, the vaccine "is the main ingredient that we need to put in this toolbox," he added.
In addition, Dieffenbach said that NIH should put more money toward reducing the risk of HIV vaccine research and development. He noted that drug makers generally are motivated to conduct vaccine research by the potential of a product's market success, but efforts often are hindered by the high risk involved. "There is so much unfunded opportunity," he said (Cooley, CQ HealthBeat, 5/22).