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The mission of the WHO-UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Initiative (HVI) is to promote the development, facilitate evaluation, and address future availability of preventive HIV vaccines, with a focus on the need of developing countries.
Since the start of the epidemic, HIV has infected more than 60 million men, women and children and AIDS has cost the lives of nearly 20 million adults and children. Despite the intense international response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, HIV continues to spread, causing more than 14,000 new infections every day, 95% of these are in the developing world. Today AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa, and the fourth worldwide. As it is the case with other infectious diseases, a safe, effective and available vaccine is ultimately required to complement and enhance the effectiveness of existing prevention strategies to control the HIV/AIDS pandemic, especially in developing countries.
The urgent need to accelerate the development of an AIDS vaccine prompted the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to join forces in establishing the new HIV Vaccine Initiative (HVI) to boost HIV/AIDS vaccine efforts, taking advantage of their complementary expertise:
- within the unique social, cultural and political environment of HIV vaccine research, UNAIDS contributes with its expertise in social and behavioural research, ethical issues, political mobilization and its strong link with community;
- WHO brings its experience in vaccinology, especially in product development, vaccination strategies and its established public-private sector partnership in the development and delivery of a wide range of vaccines for public health prevention programmes.
- Advocacy, information, education and policy dialogue;
- Guidance and coordination of international efforts, developing norms and standards;
- Promoting development of vaccines appropriate for global use especially in developing countries;
- Facilitating the conduct of vaccine trials in developing countries, through training and capacity building; and
- Addressing issues of future availability and access.
HVI is guided by a WHO-UNAIDS Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC), which provides an unique forum for coordination, where scientists from different agencies and disciplines, from north to south, can exchange information and identify common grounds for collaboration.
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