The time is ripe to boost funding for HIV-prevention research, two HIV/AIDS expert say. Recent advances provide evidence that the international community has “entered a highly promising era in HIV-prevention research,” they explain.
“The fight against HIV/AIDS turned an important corner with the recent announcement of new data from South Africa that a vaginal gel significantly reduced HIV infections in women,” Alan Bernstein and Peter Piot write in the Globe and Mail, noting that the findings come less than a year after clinical studies in Thailand showed how a vaccine regimen reduced the risk of HIV infections by up to 31 percent.
Bernstein and Piot argue that the global fight against HIV/AIDS needs new approaches to encourage donors and scientists around the world to collaborate on advancing HIV prevention and other large-scale public health goals. The two experts, who are both connected with the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, argue that several countries with the resources necessary to boost prevention research are still not investing in the field.
They explain that while HIV-prevention trials currently take three to seven years to plan, finance, conduct and analyze, new HIV infections rise on an annual basis.
“We need smarter approaches to clinical trials that test more concepts in less time and for less money, while preserving safety, community engagement and ethical guidelines,” Bernstein and Piot argues. “This requires a new spirit of global collaboration among funders, researchers, communities, local and national governments, and trial volunteers, as well as a new generation of HIV researchers, encouraged to enter this field by the conviction they can help end this epidemic.”
Bernstein and Piot also call on pharmaceutical companies to do their share, urging them to enter in private-public partnerships that will allow for sharing of data and research findings.