New York, NY, – AVAC welcomes the new Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise Scientific Strategic Plan, released today, as a critical document that the field must implement as part of ongoing efforts to improve coordination, efficiency and transparency to quickly capitalize on recent advances in AIDS vaccine research.
The Plan comes at a crucial time in the field. In the last year, the RV144 Thai vaccine trial proved that an AIDS vaccine is possible, which along with the identification of new potent, HIV-specific neutralizing antibodies have re-energized AIDS vaccine researchers, advocates and funders.
“This is the most exciting period in HIV vaccine research in the last three decades. As we enter this new era in vaccine and HIV prevention research, scientists, funders and advocates are grappling with both the excitement of scientific breakthroughs and the realities of funding shortfalls. This plan has the potential to help meet the current challenges in the field,” said Mitchell Warren, AVAC executive director. “But a plan is only as good as its execution, and AVAC will be watching and reporting on how the field comes together to capitalize both on the consensus of the plan and the promise of the science.”
The new Scientific Strategic Plan provides important signposts for the way forward, but the field must also be willing to be flexible and adaptable to quickly react to the changing realities of the AIDS epidemic and biomedical research.
“This plan proposes a comprehensive strategy that goes beyond the scientific activities of any single funder or organization,” said Bill Snow, a co-founder of AVAC, who was involved in the planning process. “There is now an urgent need to broaden international participation in the work that is necessary to build on the recent developments that have made HIV vaccine design and development as exciting and essential as it has ever been.”
AVAC recommends the following actions to realize the potential of the Plan:
- The Enterprise, through the secretariat and its governing Council, develop a comprehensive and ambitious resource mobilization strategy that identifies key gaps, new funding sources and opportunities to make the best use of already committed funds.
- The Enterprise secretariat, with guidance and input from its scientific working groups, identify priority, time-sensitive issues that could be resolved or refined through immediate, Enterprise-led action.
- Each Enterprise member articulate how their funding and/or scientific decisions are aligned with the Plan, or articulate why not.
AVAC believes it is crucial that the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise Council, Director and Secretariat drive execution of the plan. Collectively, they should hold themselves and the full range of stakeholders, including donors, scientists and organizations, accountable for matching their work to the plan’s priorities with urgency.
“Now more than ever, HIV vaccine research must also be seen in the context of the overall research agenda for HIV prevention,” Warren added. “Even as this plan is executed, the AIDS vaccine field must adapt to emerging results from other biomedical prevention trials, such as microbicides and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), by preparing for positive data with new ideas for trial design and combination prevention.”
AVAC’s annual state of the field report on vaccines and HIV prevention research, which provides more information about the way forward for prevention research and more detail about our expectations of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, is available online at www.avac.org/avacreport. The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise Scientific Strategic Plan is being published open access today by Nature Medicine and available at www.vaccineenterprise.org.