By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com September 24 2003 12:00 AM ET
Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Friday called for an international network to share information in developing an AIDS vaccine, including government, industry, and nonprofit vaccine groups. "What we would like to do is create an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration," Fauci told a news conference. "I don't see a new structure. We are talking about a broad strategic plan so that when other people in other countries...get involved, we do it in a way that is organized rather than multiple groups going about their independent ways."
Two dozen different vaccines are being tested in 27 human trials around the world, according to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Many more are being tested in labs and on animals. Fauci said NIAID, itself testing several vaccines plus funding other researchers, could help organize the effort, which he called the Partnership for AIDS Vaccine Evaluation. He noted he is already in discussions with several pharmaceutical companies and with IAVI. "It's open to all parties," he said, noting that some pharmaceutical companies already share a great deal of their information.
Experts agree that a vaccine is the only hope for controlling AIDS, since a vast majority of HIV patients have no access to the drug cocktails that can keep HIV patients healthy. The only AIDS vaccine to get through the whole course of human trials, VaxGen's AIDSVAX, failed to protect high-risk volunteers against HIV infection.