Out of Africa, an Aids Vaccine is on the way - and it will empower women most

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By Alash'le Abimiku and Seth Berkley

Posted  Monday, May 17   2010 at  00:00

To date, tens of thousands of people around the world have participated in clinical Aids vaccine research.
Many of these volunteers are Africans, who live in some of the areas worst affected by HIV and Aids.

About 1.4 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lost their lives to Aids in 2008 alone, a number equivalent to the entire population of the city of Kampala.

It is statistics such as these that have motivated many Africans to participate in the search for an HIV vaccine, not only as volunteers, but as researchers, advisors, advocates and representatives of communities.

No one in this region has been left untouched by the epidemic. But the good news is that today, a number of African-led organisations — such as the African Aids Vaccine Programme, which is co-ordinating centres of excellence across the continent to facilitate regional collaboration in Aids vaccine research — are taking a far more active role in battling the pandemic.

This is only appropriate. Curbing the Aids epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is critical to the economic growth of the region.

An effective and accessible Aids vaccine would be a vital asset in any such campaign — and Africa’s people have a great deal to contribute to its discovery.

Dr Alash’le Abimiku is co-chair of the African Aids Vaccine Programme Steering Committee; Dr Seth Berkley is president and CEO of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative

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