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HIV Vaccine Funding: 'Enough is Enough,' Says AHF in Baltimore Sun
Date:3/23/2008

c community that an AIDS vaccine is a decade or more away, if one can be developed at all.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), recently stated: "We have to leave open the possibility ... that we might never get a vaccine for HIV." That view was shared by leading AIDS expert David Baltimore, who conceded last month that the scientific community is no closer now to discovering an HIV vaccine than it was 20 years ago.

Twenty years of research and the fact remains: a vaccine against a retrovirus, the family of viruses HIV belongs to, has never been successfully developed. It is highly unlikely that there will be an AIDS vaccine - certainly not by any current standard definition of the word.

Despite this record of failure, public-sector funding for HIV vaccine research has progressively increased, more than doubling between 2000 and 2006 from $327 million to $854 million.

Meanwhile, funding for HIV/AIDS care in the U.S. has flat-lined. And around the world millions are dying for lack of access to a 5-cent condom, a $15 HIV test or antiretroviral therapy costing as little as 50 cents a day.

It is time to stop the waste.

We already know what a successful AIDS control program looks like: effective prevention, routine testing and access to treatment. Government funding of AIDS vaccine research should be ended and this money put to more productive, and lifesaving, uses. If funding being poured into HIV vaccine research were applied to these strategies, much could be achieved.

Though undiagnosed HIV infection is responsible for most new cases, routine testing is still far from reality in the U.S. or abroad. It is estimated that one quarter of the over one million Americans living with HIV/AIDS are unaware they are infected; if the majority of the 250,000 undiagnosed cases were diagnosed over the next five years, new infections could be reduced by as much as 50 percent
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SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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