Soon after HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS in 1983, there was an expectation that an effective vaccine would be tested, developed and deployed within several years. The intense research effort conducted during the last 20 years has produced important information on the virus and the disease, but an effective vaccine remains elusive. To confront this challenge, in June 2003, a group of 24 leaders in the field of HIV vaccines published a Policy Forum article in the journal, Science, proposing the creation of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. The authors recognized that current attempts to develop such a vaccine were insufficient in scale and focus, and that a renewed HIV vaccine research effort was required.
The development of the Enterprise has gone through four phases: conceptualization (2003), planning (2004), initiation of activities (2005 – 2007), and implementation (2008 and beyond).
The Enterprise model represents a new global way of thinking about scientific problems and approaches to resolving them through the formulation of a shared Scientific Strategic Plan. The plan is based on the identification of gaps and opportunities, the use of common tools, optimized resources, and iterative learning. Most importantly, it represents a new way for scientists to engage as a global community of problem-solvers, sharing materials and information, and balancing collaboration with healthy competition.