Date Published: December 2, 2008
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Pontiano Kaleebu, Alash’le Abimiku, Shenaaz El-Halabi, Sinata Koulla-Shiro, Nicole Mamotte, Souleymane Mboup, Roy Mugerwa, John Nkengasong, Coumba Toure-Kane, Tim Tucker, Douglas Wassenaar, Carolyn Williamson, Dawit Wolday
Abstract: The African AIDS Vaccine Programme, formed in 2000, is a network of African HIV vaccine stakeholders, led by Africans across the continent, with a vision of an African continent without AIDS.
Partial Text: Nearly 30 years after the first cases of AIDS were reported  and HIV identified as the causative agent, Africa today bears a disproportionate burden of the disease. Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10% of the world’s population but is home to more than 65% of the 33 million people in the world estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. The annual rate of new infections continues to rise, with an estimated 2.5 million people newly infected in 2007 .
As a network of African stakeholders in vaccine development, AAVP has the comparative advantage of being in a unique position to provide common African solutions across the diverse cultural and political environment on the continent. Africa’s participation must include all aspects of vaccine development: laboratory research, vaccine and trial design, cohort development, advocacy, ethical, and regulatory issues, and projections and strategies for use of any possible HIV vaccine. AAVP also has the advantage of impartiality in that it has no specific products in development itself; AAVP’s close linkage to WHO/UNAIDS with their experience in ethics, regulatory, and policy issues gives it greater leverage in this regard.
In the next two to three years, AAVP will become an autonomous organization, with its secretariat based in Africa but with strong links to WHO/UNAIDS and the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. This move will bring AAVP closer to its partners working in Africa and to African leadership, and will increase African ownership. The CCs will be central to AAVP’s activities, acting as hubs bringing together partners to address a shared plan aligned with the Global HIV Vaccine scientific plan. While biomedical research, communication and media, ethics, law, and human rights, and regulatory issues will be based at the CCs with coordination at the secretariat, country-based strategic planning will remain an activity of the secretariat working closely with WHO/UNAIDS. An important strategic objective for AAVP will be to influence the global agenda for HIV vaccine R&D and, at the same time, to create stronger ties and partnerships between African researchers and institutions and the rest of the world. To that end, AAVP will explore the possibility of a close relationship with the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise as a vehicle for positioning African HIV vaccine research internationally.