A new report says a broader base of funders committed to sustained support of HIV prevention research is need to ensure continued progress in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic.
A report released at the 7th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2013) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, says that despite breakthroughs in HIV prevention and treatment research, global funding for vital research is stagnant, jeopardizing further progress in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic.
The report, titled From Research to Reality: Investing in HIV Prevention Research in a Challenging Environment, was compiled by the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group. It notes that the US is by far the largest public-sector investor in HIV/AIDS research and development, spending a total of $925 million in 2012, which accounted for 70% of the total global investment in HIV prevention research.
Characterizing 2012 as “a year of follow-up research seeking to confirm results of past studies, move forward with new clinical research and roll out proven new prevention modalities” in the wake of the significant breakthroughs in preventive HIV vaccines and treatment made in 2011, the report summarizes several important and promising studies and insights made in the past year, including:
According to the authors, “2012 saw a shift in the HIV/AIDS field toward a growing consensus that the end of the global epidemic is an attainable goal. HIV science has taken rapid strides toward new, safe and effective methods of prevention and treatment that have the potential to drive down infection rates. Yet, the fact that there are still 2.5 million new HIV infections globally each year speaks to the need for continued investment implementing existing prevention modalities, while also developing new ones, in order to ultimately take that number to zero.”
The report also identifies several promising areas of HIV prevention research to watch going forward, including the development of multipurpose prevention technologies, which are designed “to address two or more sexual and reproductive health indications simultaneously, combining protection against unintended pregnancy and at least one sexually transmitted infection;” innovative devices that could “increase uptake and accelerate scale-up of adult male circumcision,” a proven preventive measure (data from Kenya, South Africa and Uganda have shown that male circumcision reduces the individual risk of HIV infection by 60%); pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) technologies (such as daily oral TDF/FT); and treatment as prevention approaches.
Finally, the report offers several closing insights regarding the current state of investment in HIV prevention and treatment research, including: