Message from the Executive Director
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Developing an HIV vaccine is one of the world’s most urgent global scientific priorities. Around the world, approximately 33 million people are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In 2007, more than 2.1 million people died from AIDS, and more than 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV. Behind these numbers are millions of personal tragedies: loved ones lost, children orphaned, and the tearing of the basic fabric of society.
Current HIV prevention and treatment efforts – condoms, education, expanded access to male circumcision, and antiretroviral therapy – continue to help curb the epidemic. But in the long-term, a safe and effective vaccine remains the world’s best hope for halting the spread of HIV.
Some of the world’s best scientists have been searching for an HIV vaccine for decades and, as many of you know, there has been both progress and setbacks. Global problems like HIV/AIDS demand global solutions. The Enterprise’s mission is to convene the HIV vaccine field, build collaboration, and help develop a collective vision for this effort. The Enterprise is working with scientists, researchers, funders, governments, industry, and advocates around the world to accelerate the development of an effective HIV vaccine.
Over the coming year, my plan is to expand the Enterprise’s activities following the launch of our new secretariat in New York. As we build the organization, we intend to convene a series of timely discussions and produce scientific reports on specific issues and challenges around HIV vaccine development. We also plan to begin publishing a broad series of updates on the state of the HIV vaccine field. Perhaps most importantly, it is our goal to reach out to all of our stakeholders to share perspectives and invite your ideas. Many of you have already expressed a need to update the scientific strategic plan. We intend to do so, in close consultation with the entire HIV vaccine field, focusing on key areas including fundamental science, the engagement of more developing world scientists, attraction of more young scientists, and issues around product development and manufacturing.
With dedication, collaboration, and the engagement of the best scientific minds, I believe there will be a safe and effective HIV vaccine. Over the past few months, I have attended a number of meetings and workshops where I have had the opportunity to meet and hear some of you engaged in various aspects of the science of vaccine development. I have been extremely impressed with the dedication, ingenuity, and talent that has come together to develop a vaccine. As a newcomer to the HIV vaccine field, I can tell you that I am very impressed with everyone involved in this effort: scientists, lay advocates, clinicians, and officials at the funding organizations, working together to make a vaccine a reality.
The Enterprise is working with the world’s brightest scientific minds to explore new ideas, take new approaches, and learn from other fields to overcome the challenge of HIV. While no one can put a timeline on when we will have a vaccine, working together, we will get there.
Dr. Alan Bernstein
Executive Director, Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise