July 17, 2015
The recent UN Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) calls out the 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections since the MDGs were established in 2000 as a singular MDG achievement1. That progress reflects 15 years of HIV research in many forms—from female condoms and voluntary medical male circumcision, to new strategies for preventing vertical transmission to the scale-up of ART. Over the years, this progress has been supported by investments from many government, philanthropic and private sector funders of HIV prevention research.
The 11th annual report on the state of HIV prevention research investment, HIV Prevention Research & Development Funding Trends 2000–2014: Investment Priorities To Fund Innovation In An Evolving Global Health and Development Landscape, suggests that this work is still on the agenda for funders, albeit with a small cohort supplying the bulk of the resources.
The new report, released in Vancouver at the IAS 2015 conference, was prepared by the HIV Vaccines & Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group (RTWG), led by AVAC, in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and UNAIDS. HIV Prevention Research & Development Funding Trends 2000–2014: Investment Priorities To Fund Innovation In An Evolving Global Health and Development Landscape documents that absolute funding levels have been stable over the past few years. This reflects an overall decline in real spending given biomedical research inflation.
In 2014 funders invested a total of US$1.25 billion in research and development (R&D) for HIV prevention—representing a decrease from the 2013 funding level which totaled US$1.26 billion.
In 2014, the US public-sector and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation account for 83 percent of all HIV prevention R&D funding and the number of philanthropic funders engaged in HIV prevention research has continued a steadily decline since 2010. Thus, the report points to the need for a broader funding base.
Despite the slight decline in funding, HIV prevention R&D is still delivering important advances. The 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver July 20-22, will showcase results for a range of groundbreaking research that has been supported over the past several years, including the Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) trial, the HPTN 052 treatment as prevention trial and several groundbreaking oral PrEP trials.
Results from studies of a vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral dapivirine are expected in the next 12 months. Several different HIV vaccine candidates, neutralizing antibodies and long-acting injectable ARVs are currently in trials that could lead to multiple efficacy trials starting over the next two years.
While the report focuses on financial resources, in also highlights the essential role of individual trial participants. In 2014, there were over a million participants in HIV prevention research trials globally. With continued human and financial investment, the 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections attributed to the MDGs is hopefully only the beginning.
For more information on the HIV Vaccines & Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group, the full report, executive summary, graphics and slides visit www.hivresourcetracking.org.