NEW YORK - The First Lady, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, as the High Representative for the AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP), Wednesday hosted a roundtable luncheon based on the Research and Development for an HIV Vaccine for Africa. The Luncheon took place at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Among those present at the meeting were members of the HIV vaccine research community, such as Dr. Seth Berkley, President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), Dr. Alan Bernstein, Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise (GHVE), the Director General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, Dr. Peter Piot, Director of UNAIDS and members of the AAVP.
In her welcoming remarks, Mrs. Kagame emphasized that, “the recent setbacks in HIV vaccine trials should not discourage our efforts,” stating that, “a preventive vaccine is the only long-term sustainable solution to combating HIV.”
She added that, “HIV infection is more than 25 years old, and we may spend another 25 years searching for its vaccine, but we have to keep the faith – the same faith that scientists kept for 47 years as they searched and found a vaccine against Polio..”
Dr. Berkley and Ambassador Mark Dybul, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, co-chaired a dialogue session on What Needs to be done in Research and Development for an HIV Vaccine for Africa.
Questions included how to get countries to increase financial investment in support of HIV vaccines for Africa, as well as how to engage African leaders to integrate HIV vaccine plans in their National AIDS Control Plans.
Dr. Alash’le Abimiku, Co-Chair of the AAVP Steering Committee also spoke on why Africa matters in the HIV vaccine process, having the most affected populations of HIV/AIDS.
In closing, Dr. Chan called on African governments to commit more of their national budgets towards research and development for the HIV vaccine, and appealed development partners to support projects other than those that were considered mainstream.