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International News
Gates Foundation, Canadian Government Announce Joint Initiative to Develop HIV/AIDS Vaccine

February 21, 2007

Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday announced a joint $139 million initiative to establish a research institute for the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports. According to the Globe and Mail, the Canadian government will provide about $111 million over five years and the Gates Foundation will provide $28 million to the initiative, called the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (Galloway, Globe and Mail, 2/21). The initiative aims to develop a preventive HIV/AIDS vaccine within 10 years and will build a research facility to support Canadian scientists and other researchers worldwide (Duff-Brown, AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2/21). According to the Globe and Mail, the funding will be used to develop vaccine candidates and bolster the ability to run clinical trials (Globe and Mail, 2/21). The research facility will be the first in the world with the production capacity to manufacture experimental vaccines for clinical trials, the AP/Sun-Sentinel reports. The Canadian government will accept proposals from provinces interested in hosting the facility, according to a spokesperson for Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement. According to Gates, the initiative will run under the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise (AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2/21).

"Every year that can be saved in the delivery of this product literally translates into millions of lives saved," Gates said, adding, "Most scientists think that it probably will take more than 10 years. We could get lucky. It could happen sooner than that. But with all top problems, the more energy we put into it, clearly that's going to cut down the amount of time required." The World Health Organization, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Canadian AIDS Society all praised the initiative (Globe and Mail, 2/21). Monique Doolittle-Romas, executive director of the Canadian AIDS Society, said the initiative was a "very welcome announcement to the HIV/AIDS movement," adding that a vaccine is "considered to be our best hope in preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS." The society in a statement said that a vaccine is a long-term solution and that there is an immediate need for HIV/AIDS prevention, education and support services (Canadian AIDS Society release, 2/20). IAVI CEO and President Seth Berkley said the initiative will "coordinate critical domestic research with ongoing international efforts to tackle one of the most significant public health challenges we face today" (IAVI release, 2/20). Harper at a news conference announcing the initiative said, "While the ultimate goal is to develop a cure, we must also work on preventive measures to halt the spread of the disease" (Globe and Mail, 2/21).

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