Scientists come together for the AIDS Vaccine Conference 2009

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Scientists come together for the AIDS Vaccine Conference 2009

19 October 2009

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UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé at the press conference of the 2009 AIDS Vaccine Conference. Paris, 19 October 2009. Credit: UNAIDS

The yearly AIDS Vaccine Conference opened in Paris today. High on the agenda are discussions on the progress made in vaccine development and implications of trial results for the future. In a keynote address to the conference, UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé said access and affordability were the first challenges towards building an effective AIDS response.

Mr Sidibé spoke about positive developments related to the AIDS vaccine research field. The recent results in Thailand have given hope to the many scientists who are working on finding a safe and highly effective HIV vaccine. These efforts demonstrate the vigour and momentum of the collective global effort to deliver on the promise of AIDS vaccines, said Mr Sidibé.

A ready to use vaccine against HIV could be more than a decade away, but when it does become available, it needs to be financed as a public good that is accessible for all.

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

The UNAIDS Head also spoke of the challenge in creating conducive conditions for massive uptake of an effective AIDS vaccine. Antiretroviral treatment has been around since 1996, but real access to treatment only came about after public pressure put on world leaders – as a result the prices of medicines came down giving millions of people living with HIV in developing countries access to treatment.

Today, AIDS activists are repeating these efforts to reduce prices, this time for second line antiretroviral medicines.

“A ready to use vaccine against HIV could be more than a decade away, but when it does become available, it needs to be financed as a public good that is accessible for all,” Mr Sidibé said, “Meanwhile we have to redouble our combination HIV prevention efforts to stop the continuing tide of new HIV infections.”

AIDS Vaccine 2009 will bring together established and young research scientists, with clinicians, epidemiologists and public health experts aimed at sharing experience and scientific advances and enhancing collaborations.

The first AIDS Vaccine Conference, organized by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, was held in Paris in the year 2000 with the aim of advancing the field of HIV vaccine research through discussion, exchange and learning. The annual meeting is now seen as the leading forum for exchange of scientific information relating to the difficult challenge of developing an effective vaccine against HIV. It will conclude on 22 October.