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Currently, no single body or consortium has the required budget or infrastructure to develop an effective HIV vaccine, making international cooperation an imperative. Established in 1999, the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) coordinates the development and testing of HIV vaccines in South Africa, and links national efforts with international initiatives such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

Timothy Tucker and Gatsha Mazithulela, respectively director and deputy-director of SAAVI, describe the efforts of their organisation, which has developed a vaccine candidate soon to be tested in the United States. This is the first time that a vaccine produced in a developing country will be tested in a developed country. Tucker and Mazithulela say it is a real sign of increasing collaborative efforts.

Investment in research projects taking place in developing countries is also increasing. The European and Developing Country Trial Partnership have recently been awarded US$740 million, and 80 per cent of the money must be spent in developing countries. But, although international cooperation and funding is bearing fruits, the authors say that for scientists around the world to respond to the spread of the disease with the speed and vigour it requires, global investment needs to be "rethought".

Link to full article in the British Medical Journal

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