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Advocates call for greater funding for HIV vaccine research

Advocates call for greater funding for HIV vaccine research

Attendees of the AIDS Vaccine '04 conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday called for increased global financial support for the development of HIV vaccines, saying as much as $18 billion will be needed over the next decade for vaccine research. "Due to an alarming increase in the number of HIV infections, whereby it is anticipated that an additional 45 million new infections will occur by 2010, there is an urgent need for a preventive vaccine to end the HIV pandemic both in the developing and in the developed world," said conference chairman Giuseppe Pantaleo. But researchers say HIV vaccine research is incredibly complex because of the ability of the virus to thwart many approaches to disabling it or boosting the body's natural defenses against it. "Despite many important advances in HIV research, a safe and effective HIV vaccine has eluded our grasp," said U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci in a press release. Additional research is still needed in basic science to fully understand the virus and its defenses against the human immune system, vaccine advocates say, and much more funding is needed for clinical trials of existing vaccine candidates. There are currently more than 30 HIV vaccine candidates in human tests around the world. A separate meeting organized by the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS urged vaccine researchers to include more women and children in their clinical trials of experimental HIV vaccines. "We have identified measures aimed at rectifying the injustice stemming from the frequent exclusion or low participation of women and adolescents in HIV vaccine clinical trials," said Ruth Macklin, a professor of bioethics at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in a UNAIDS press release. "Clinical trial enrollment needs to be more inclusive so the benefits of research are more fairly distributed."

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