Infectious Diseases and HIV Physicians Oppose Shifting NIAID Research Dollars to Anthrax Vaccine Procurement

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) are urging the White House and Congress not to shift millions of research dollars away from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in order to buy 24 million doses of a new anthrax vaccine.

"Although we do not oppose federal purchase of an anthrax vaccine, we are concerned that if NIAID research funding is used for anthrax vaccine procurement, that purchase will come at the expense of critical research grants in HIV and other infectious diseases," said W. Michael Scheld, MD, president of IDSA.

Last week, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee stating that OMB plans to use $145 million of NIAID's 2003 research budget to pay for research and development of the anthrax vaccine, including procurement of vaccine candidate material for research and testing. Reportedly, 25 percent of the 2003 funding will come from AIDS research; 25 percent from non-AIDS, non-bioterrorism research; and 50 percent from bioterrorism research. The shift could cause NIAID to shorten the length of many grants by up to six months.

"We are already hearing from scientists who are working on critical HIV research that their NIAID grants are being cut," said William G. Powderly, chair of the HIVMA Board. "Funds for the anthrax vaccine should be secured from other resources. NIAID should be allowed to do what it does best-advance scientific knowledge through research."

According to IDSA and HIVMA, the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be the appropriate agency to oversee the procurement of the anthrax vaccine. Congress recently appropriated funds to DHS for this purpose.

"Successful advances in research take time," said Scheld. "Scientists need a stable, continuous investment of resources. Advances in HIV and other infectious disease-related research cannot be achieved under these restricted timeframes."

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), based in Alexandria, Va., is a professional society representing 7,000 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases. Housed within IDSA is the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), which represents 2,500 physicians working on the front line of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Together, IDSA and HIVMA are the principal organizations representing infectious diseases and HIV physicians.

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