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An effective, affordable and accessible HIV vaccine could be developed within 7 to 10 years, according to scientists at the Medical Research Council of South Africa. Its success, however, depends on a complex interplay of politics, science, and public-private partnerships.

The authors stress that political will and commitment — both in the North and South — will play a major role. Distribution strategies should be thought out at this stage with the goal of correcting the inequitable access to antiretroviral drugs seen in the past, they say.

They conclude that the development and distribution of an HIV vaccine will be a test of this generation in terms of both international ethics and humanitarian objectives.

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Reference: BMJ 324, 211-213 (special issue on HIV/AIDS)

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