KIGALI - The First Lady, Mrs Jeannette Kagame, has been appointed as High Representative of the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP). The announcement was made during the African Aids Vaccine Program Fourth Forum, held in Abuja, Nigeria. The nomination comes as efforts are increasing within Africa regarding the development of HIV vaccines, a release from the First Lady’s office said. ‘In this capacity, she will help raise awareness among African decision makers in support of HIV vaccine research and development of this Programme,’ it said.
In her acceptance statement, Mrs. Kagame said that she was honoured to be Africa AIDS Vaccine Program’s High Representative, and ‘looked forward to raising awareness on the need to accelerate research efforts for an HIV vaccine.’
She also appealed to donors, communities and partner organisations, to continue supporting the efforts of the Africa Aids Vaccine Program stressing that, “we are in a race against time with the AIDS pandemic … we have a debt to the millions of lives that are lost each year to this disease. Let us all as humanity stand behind efforts to end HIV/AIDS.”
The financial investment on the continent in this area has increased significantly.
Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, the Director for World Health Organisation (WHO) Initiative for Vaccine Research, said “substantial progress has been made throughout Africa to ensure the active participation of African stakeholders in all areas of HIV/Aids vaccine research and development.”
As announced at the AAVP Forum, four new centres of excellence are being established in Africa to build and strengthen capacity in the most crucial areas of HIV vaccines work.
AAVP has played an important role in promoting Africa’s establishment and implementation of national policies and strategies related to the development and use of future HIV vaccines. Since 1999, when the first HIV/Aids vaccine trial was conducted in Africa, there have been more than 12 trials in eight African countries.