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AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition Receives $14 Million Grant from Gates Foundation to Develop International HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Network

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August 21, 2007

New AVAC Report on the State of the AIDS Vaccine Field Calls for Accelerated Action in AIDS Vaccine and HIV Prevention Research

Seattle -- The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) announced today at the AIDS Vaccine 2007 Conference that it has received a five-year, $14 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a new international HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Network.  The Advocacy Network will work with civil society, policymakers, and research partners around the world to advance ethical research and development of new HIV prevention interventions, ensure that communities are informed about and involved in prevention research, and ensure that the benefits of research are shared globally.


The new grant broadens AVAC's advocacy focus beyond AIDS vaccines, to include other new HIV prevention interventions such as microbicides and oral prevention drugs.

"We are entering a new era in HIV prevention research, with more products being tested in efficacy trials than ever before," said Mitchell Warren, Executive Director of AVAC.  "A coordinated global effort is urgently needed to support the wide range of prevention research, to ensure that the voices of civil society and communities are heard, and to prepare for results from these trials."

"It is essential to build support for and understanding of how new HIV prevention tools will help accelerate efforts to slow this epidemic," said Joe Cerrell, Director of Global Health Advocacy for the Gates Foundation.  "AVAC has been an important voice in AIDS vaccine advocacy for the last decade, and we are extremely pleased to support this broadening of its work."

"This generous grant from the Gates Foundation will allow AVAC to expand our advocacy efforts and build a global network of advocates who will work to promote HIV prevention research and help communities prepare for the use of new HIV prevention options," said Mike Powell, President of the AVAC Board of Directors.

AVAC remains committed to advocacy for effective AIDS vaccines, and will now be able to expand its work.  The new international HIV Prevention Research Advocacy Network will:
� Develop international advocacy partnerships that support both the needs of communities involved in research and a global advocacy movement for HIV prevention research.
� Translate complex scientific ideas to communities AND translate community needs and perceptions to the scientific community.
� Work to hold both research agencies and advocates accountable for accelerating ethical prevention research and development.
� Help ensure that communities, policymakers, and civil society have realistic expectations about HIV prevention research and specific clinical trials.
� Work closely with other groups conducting HIV prevention research advocacy, including microbicide advocacy groups.

"With so many clinical trials of HIV prevention interventions underway or planned in the next few years, there is an urgent need for a global advocacy network that will expand and support partnerships among the different groups working in the field," said Lori Heise, Director of the Global Campaign for Microbicides.

Developing and maintaining strong support for clinical research of new HIV prevention interventions can be difficult in many communities and countries, but is necessary if ethical research is to take place in these communities.  The Advocacy Network will link advocates, researchers, and policymakers from around the world and will share information and identify and promote "good practices" for advocacy and clinical research.

"This network will provide an important knowledge base for those of us working on and supporting clinical trials in our communities," said Manju Chatani, coordinator of the African Microbicides Advocacy Group. "We look forward to working with AVAC and other partners to strengthen HIV prevention research advocacy here in Africa and in communities around the world."
Resetting the Clock -- New AVAC Report Examines State of the AIDS Vaccine Field and Calls for New, Ambitious Deadlines for Vaccine Development

AVAC also released its annual report examining the state of the AIDS vaccine field today at the AIDS Vaccine 2007 Conference.  The new report, entitled Resetting the Clock, outlines the specific deadlines and challenges facing the field in the arenas of AIDS vaccine scientific strategy, clinical trials, and the broader prevention field and provides recommendations for action by researchers, policymakers, industry, funders, civil society, and advocates, including AVAC.

The report also discusses progress and challenges of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an alliance of independent partners committed to accelerating the development of an AIDS vaccine. AVAC is one of the founding stakeholders of the Enterprise.

"We will soon have data from the test-of-concept studies of novel AIDS vaccine candidates," said Warren.  "It is time to reset the clock to launch a countdown for meeting new, ambitious deadlines for developing new vaccine concepts and candidates that will be needed whether or not there is evidence of benefit from these first test-of-concept trials."

Key features of Resetting the Clock include:
� New Countdowns looks at progress and barriers in funding and strategy-setting for the vaccine field, addresses key questions about what needs to be done as we wait for the results from current trials, and looks at the responsibilities of key institutions.  It also includes an updated industry survey.
� Racing Against Time examines clinical trials issues and finds that the field is already in danger of slipping behind on several fronts, including clinical trials capacity, consensus on standards of prevention and levels of care, and new funding structures for US prevention research networks.
� Wake Up Call explores the critical lessons to be learned from responses to male circumcision and HPV vaccine introduction.  It also includes a survey of advocates from other areas of the AIDS response about prevention research.
"This report shows that the current state of HIV prevention research is troubling and challenging.  It is time for all AIDS advocates to re-exam�ine their messages, their missions, and their goals for the next five to ten years," said Warren.  "We at AVAC remain committed to our advocacy for an effective AIDS vaccine and are excited about expanding the scope of our work to include the broader field of HIV prevention research and working with new partners around the globe to ensure that the world finds a way to defeat HIV/AIDS."

Resetting the Clock is available online at http://www.avac.org/reports.htm.

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About AVAC
Founded in 1995, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) is a non-profit, community- and consumer-based organization that uses public education, policy analysis, advocacy and community mobilization to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of AIDS vaccines and other HIV prevention options. For more information, visit http://www.avac.org.