science and research
The long term response to AIDS depends on progress in HIV research. All aspects are needed from understanding the basic biology of HIV, developing effective therapies to treat HIV-related disease, understanding the determinants of HIV transmission, and evaluating the effectiveness of a variety of approaches to preventing new infections, including biomedical approaches such as microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis, HIV Vaccines, male circumcision and condoms. The best hope for ending the epidemic lies in a vaccine. However, developing one presents enormous challenges as the virus mutates rapidly. This quest for a vaccine, still many years away, should not overshadow the tremendous achievements and discoveries by scientists to date.
2007 saw an important landmark in the history of HIV prevention – the finding that male circumcision reduces the risk of men acquiring HIV infection by approximately 60%. This was based on the results of three controlled trials in South Africa, Uganda and Kenya. Thanks to this research, the efficacy of male circumcision in reducing female to male transmission of HIV has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
In addition, important work in the development of microbicides—a vaginal gel to protect from HIV infection— will enable women to have greater control to protect themselves from HIV infection.
Continued funding for scientific research and development for AIDS is vital.