IAVI REPORT – VOL. 18, NO. 4, 2014
As the year comes to a close there is, as always, much to reflect upon.
Vaccine research was brought once again to the forefront of people’s minds as the world, and particularly the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, grappled with the deadliest outbreak of the Ebola virus since it was discovered in 1976. The epidemic, which started in earnest in March of this year, has already left thousands dead in its wake, and as this issue went to press, the situation in Sierra Leone seemed to be worsening rapidly.
This outbreak jump-started efforts to develop a vaccine, inspiring renewed collaboration among government and private company researchers. As a result, the first human trials of an Ebola vaccine were recently completed and efficacy trials should begin as early as the end of this month in Liberia. I spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the country’s largest research institution, the National Institutes of Health, about the vaccine research efforts at his Institute as well as how he tried to combat the fear that accompanied the Ebola outbreak far beyond its epicenter.
Fauci also shared his opinions on the current status of HIV prevention research, which was of course the focus of the first HIV Research for Prevention (R4P) conference, held in Cape Town, South Africa, at the end of October. Our detailed coverage from the conference captures the major themes emerging in HIV prevention research and provides a preview of new results to expect in 2015.
Our final feature of this issue delves into the recently rejuvenated field of therapeutic vaccine research. A renewed interest in curing HIV is revitalizing efforts to develop therapeutic vaccine candidates, many of which are testing similar strategies to those in the preventive vaccine field.
Just a week ago, the world commemorated World AIDS Day and the theme for this day by the US government was Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS Free Generation. If anything, the message of the inaugural HIV R4P conference was that the efforts to treat, prevent, and cure HIV infection are becoming tangled up together and that it is only through a combination approach that an AIDS-free generation will truly be reached.
When I wrote my first letter here as Contributing Editor back in March, I didn’t anticipate being involved through the year, but it has been my sincere pleasure to be back in the fold, working alongside a great team of staff and freelance contributors to bring this unique publication to you, our loyal readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s issues as much as I have.
Happy New Year!
—Kristen Jill Kresge