AIDS experts attending the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, say that an effective HIV vaccine is still years away and called for a doubling of vaccine research funds to advance current candidates in development. Officials from the New York-based International AIDS Vaccine Initiative say annual spending on HIV vaccine research worldwide is about $650 million. Vaccine research at major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies totals just $100 million, less than 1% of the total amount spent on all HIV product development. Reuters quotes Seth Berkley, president of IAVI, as saying the "world is inching toward a vaccine when we should be making strides." The single biggest obstacle is that vaccine development is not a top scientific, political, and economic priority. Only a vaccine can end the epidemic."
IAVI reports that there are more than 30 HIV vaccines in clinical trials, up dramatically from just a handful only two years ago. But only one vaccine has reached final Phase III trials; most of the others are still in early human safety tests. That trial combines two HIV vaccines in the prime-boost approach that aims to prime the body's immune system to recognize invading HIV, then boost those immune responses to kill all virus in the body. But final results from the clinical trial aren't expected until late 2007 or 2008, according to IAVI officials.