African AIDS Summit: Body Seeks Support For AIDS Vaccine

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Ahead of this week's African Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases in Abuja, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has urged all participants to accelerate the development of preventive vaccines for AIDS and assure their worldwide availability.
"The world must mobilise a comprehensive response to the global tragedy of AIDS, and preventive vaccines must be part of the strategy," IAVI president Seth Berkley said in a pre-summit statement released Sunday in Abuja.
"We must work together to ensure that all who are sick with AIDS receive the best treatment available and we must redouble our commitment to education and other existing prevention programs, while moving quickly in the search for an AIDS vaccine, the world's only hope of ending the epidemic," he said.
The summit, being held in the Nigerian capital from 24-27 April, is sponsored by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and UNAIDS, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS.
It is expected to bring high-level attention to the AIDS scourge ravaging the African continent.
Several African heads of state, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former US President Bill Clinton are among those expected to attend the high-profile conference.
Berkley said his organisation was "pleased that AIDS vaccines are on the summit agenda, and especially pleased that the host country, Nigeria, has made a commitment to a national AIDS vaccine strategy".
"IAVI applauds leaders for coming together at this critical time to discuss ways to deal with the crisis of AIDS and other infectious diseases in Africa," said Berkley, who is expected to speak about vaccines at a panel discussion 24 April "Epidemics thrive on silence, and openly addressing our global emergencies is our most important defence," he said.
IAVI is a global organisation working to speed the development and distribution of preventive AIDS vaccines.
The New York-based organisation focuses on four main areas, which are mobilising support through advocacy and education, accelerating scientific progress, encouraging industrial participation in AIDS vaccine development and assuring global access.
IAVI gets most of its funding from governments, foundations and multilateral institutions, with its major donors including the Bill

22 april 2001 20:01:00




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