Brazilian government renews HIV Vaccine Plan

The Brazilian government recently made a US$14 million commitment to AIDS vaccine research, intended to strengthen the country’s efforts to discover, test, manufacture, and provide access to a safe and effective AIDS vaccine. This financial commitment is meant to help meet the goals specified in the Brazilian HIV Vaccine Plan 2008-2012, the third plan adopted by the government since 1992, which has called for further integration of science and technology efforts in Brazil into the global strategy for developing an AIDS vaccine. 
Brazil’s National AIDS Program will oversee the funds and will likely issue requests for proposals from scientists in the country by the middle of next year. Brazil has an active history in AIDS vaccine research and advocacy. Trial sites in the country participated in the Phase IIb test-of-concept trial, known as the STEP study, which was conducted by Merck and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at multiple sites throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, and Australia, until last September when immunizations were halted because the candidate vaccine was found to be ineffective.

Peggy Johnston, director of AIDS Vaccine Research and Prevention at NIAID, attended the launch of the Brazilian initiative last month in the capital city of Brasilia and Alan Bernstein, executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, addressed the session via video. They, along with others from IAVI, emphasized the importance of international collaborations in AIDS vaccine research and development. —Regina McEnery