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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
G8 backs global HIV vaccine work
Vaccination
Scientists are already working to develop a vaccine
World leaders at the G8 summit have backed a global initiative to develop a vaccine which is effective against the HIV virus.

They called for an international system for clinical trials to be set up and information-sharing technologies to speed research.

Scientists around the world are currently working to develop a vaccine.

HIV/Aids charities welcomed the G8 statement, and said they hoped it would accelerate research.

We believe the time is right ... to come together in a more organised fashion
G8 statement
The initiative, the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, which is being backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is currently being established.

Experts say the development of an effective vaccine against HIV/Aids has been slow, because of the complex scientific, logistical and financial challenges involved.

In the 20 years since the human immunodeficiency virus was identified as the cause of Aids, around 70 human clinical trials have been carried out.

But only one vaccine has reached the advanced trial stage, and that did not show any noticeable level of efficacy.

'Time is right'

A statement issued at the end of the three-day G8 summit in Sea Island,Georgia, US, said: "We ... call for a for the establishment of a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise - a virtual consortium to accelerate HIV vaccine development by enhancing coordination, information sharing and collaboration globally.

HIV: THE VIRUS BEHIND AIDS

"We believe the time is right for the major scientific and other stakeholders - both public and private sector, in developed and developing countries - to come together in a more organised fashion."

The leaders also called for an increase in vaccine-manufacturing capacity.

They said that in 2001 and 2002, only seven vaccines began clinical trials and only one entered advanced human testing.

The United States, which holds the G8 presidency, is to hold a meeting this year of interested parties.

The other G8 members are Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia.

The World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) welcomed the G8 statement.

Dr Lee Jong-wook, Director-General of WHO. said: "The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise will bring a new political and financial dimension addressing the complex challenge of developing a safe and effective HIV/AIDS vaccine."

Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said the G8's endorsement of a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise was a "vital boost" to vaccine development.


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