IPM Hails Global HIV Prevention Working Group's Call for $1 Billion in Additional Public-Sector Spending on Microbicide R & D

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) endorsed the Global HIV Prevention Working Group's new report calling for $3.8 billion in additional annual spending by 2005 for existing prevention programs.

IPM said it is especially pleased that the report also highlighted the need to develop new prevention technologies, recommending additional public sector spending of US$1 billion for HIV/AIDS vaccines and $1 billion for microbicides.

"The global community must devote substantial new resources to the search for new prevention tools to add to the 'combination prevention' inventory," the Global HIV Prevention Working Group report stated. "Public sector funding for research and development should increase by $1 billion for HIV/AIDS vaccines and by $1 billion for microbicides," the report added.

"This report is the first major analysis of global HIV prevention requirements that fully considers the need for new prevention technologies," said Zeda Rosenberg, Sc.D., chief executive officer of the International Partnership for Microbicides.

Rosenberg said the addition of $1 billion of new public sector resources would allow for the full development of the most promising candidate microbicides through Phase III testing and set the groundwork for the efficient distribution of this critically needed technology.

Microbicides are products such as gels or creams that women can use to prevent or significantly reduce the transmission of HIV and other disease-causing organisms during sexual intercourse. Ideally, they could be used without the male even knowing it. Microbicides could be delivered in other forms, including films, suppositories, and slow-releasing sponges or vaginal rings.

Microbicides are primarily needed to protect women, who are at significant risk of contracting HIV during sexual intercourse. Biologically, women are four times more vulnerable than men to HIV infection during a single sexual encounter. Some 42 million people are currently living with HIV. Last year, globally, women accounted for 2 million of the 5 million people newly infected with HIV. Research suggests that even a partially effective product that reaches a limited number of women worldwide has the potential to avert nearly three million infections in just three years.

"In many cases, women lack the power to protect themselves with existing HIV prevention strategies, including mutual monogamy, abstinence, treatment of sexually transmitted infections and condom use," Rosenberg said.

The IPM was launched in the spring of 2002 with a pledge of $15 million in support from the Rockefeller Foundation. Since that time, it has already attracted significant donor support from five European governments -- Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK -- as well as $60 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and contributions from the World Bank and UNFPA.

The IPM is canvassing the globes for the most promising new microbicide technologies and is forming a number of public-private partnerships to accelerate and increase the efficiency of product development at every stage, including formulation and drug delivery research, clinical trials, and manufacturing. The IPM is also convening industry experts and making targeted investments to develop resources and technologies that will be shared with others to advance the entire field. These capacity-building activities include animal model testing, clinical trial site development, and research into drug formulation and delivery.

In addition to Rosenberg, IPM has a distinguished international board of directors, which is chaired by Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla of Egypt, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and former director of the UNDP, UNFPA, World Bank, WHO Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction.

Source: International Partnership for Microbicides

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