African AIDS Vaccine Programme meets in Ethiopia

On 13-16 June 2003 nearly 200 scientists, trial investigators, national authorities and community representatives from Africa and other parts of the world gathered for the second meeting of the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP). The theme of the meeting was: “Strategies for the Development of HIV Vaccine Trial Sites in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.”

“AAVP represents a unique opportunity for African researchers to lead the continent in scientific advances. This meeting brings together many of the key players in AIDS vaccine research in Africa and around the world to share experiences and build a platform of accelerated action,” said Pontiano Kaleebu, vice-chairman of AAVP and a principal investigator of the IAVI-UVRI trial at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

Many people at the meeting were talking about the new wave of vaccine trials in Africa (see Research & Trials). Crucial issues such as the medical care that should be given to trial volunteers and their communities, and the enrollment of women and adolescents were also discussed in detail.

There were also updates on AAVP activities. Since its founding in 2000, AAVP has helped to organize African laboratory trainings in techniques used in AIDS vaccine research; organized an active community task force; and developed a consensus document on clade (see Spotlight). In 2002, AAVP also assessed African ethics committees—panels that review proposed trials to ensure that they meet local and international ethical standards. Looking ahead, AAVP plans to develop guidelines for countries that want to develop a national plan to support AIDS vaccine development.