A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has said that the HIV virus cannot be controlled by vaccines and immunisation and efforts should be focused on stem cell and gene research.

Professor David Baltimore, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was speaking at the assocation’s annual meeting yesterday.

His work has made a major contribution to the discovery of HIV. In 1975 he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Today the chief executive of the National AIDS Trust said she is hopeful a vaccine can be found for HIV.

“It took scientists 47 years to develop a vaccine for polio and 42 years to find one for chicken pox,” said Deborah Jack.

“In just 25 years of HIV enormous breakthroughs in research means what was once a death sentence can now be controlled and managed.

“People with HIV that can access treatment do live long healthy lives.

“There are over 30 vaccine candidates in trials around the world and microbicides offer new hope in the field of prevention.

“Developing a vaccine is a long and expensive process that requires patience and long-term investment.

“Research is currently under funded and under supported.

“With 2.5 million new cases of HIV around the world in 2007, developing a vaccine for HIV is not a matter of hope, it is a necessity.”

In February 2007 the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates and the Canadian government announced funding for the development of an AIDS vaccine.

They jointly committed $110 million to the project, establishing a new research institute, the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative. Its goal is to find a vaccine within a decade.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper pledged $95.3 million, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation promised up to $24 million.