A shocking new survey has uncovered that the international community of Aids scientists are giving up hope of finding a vaccine for the virus.
The growing pessimism of scientists comes after the disastrous failure of a trial vaccine. The trial drug, manufactured by pharmaceutical company Merck, has been found not to work and in some cases it has increased the likelihood of being infected with HIV.
After initially promising results when tested on primates the drug reacted very differently when tested humans who were at a high risk of infection.
The misleading results that were derived from animal testing will be welcomed by animal rights groups.
The survey, carried out by The Independent, surveyed 35 leading Aids scientists from the Britain and the United States.
Two thirds believed that an HIV vaccine will not be developed within the next 10 years and some of them said that it may take at least 20 more years of research before a vaccine can be used to protect people either from infection or the onset of Aids.
This latest report yet again sparks debate over how funds should be allocated. Many have argued that the vast sums of money spent on drugs trials should be channelled into infection prevention.
Winnie Sseruma told the Independent:
“When I was diagnosed, nearly 20 years ago, it was when the first drugs had come on the market.
“A lot of people had said before then that there was no hope and that all efforts should be put into prevention. But look where we are now.
“We cannot lose hope; we need to invest in a vaccine.”
Paul Ward, Deputy Chief Executive of the Terrance Higgins Trust told PinkNews.co.uk:
“Research for a vaccine must continue, I think that it is a false choice to say that have to fund either a vaccine or fund prevention,
“Twenty years ago it was clear that there were going to be setbacks. There was a lot of setbacks in the early nineties and many scientists wanted to throw in the towel, thankfully they didn’t”
“There are three things that we need to do to combat HIV and Aids. We need to continue research into a vaccine, we need to work on prevention such as teh promotion of condoms and we need to make sure that treatments are available to sufferers of HIV and Aids in places like Africa.”
Last year Microsoft founder Bill Gates promised $24m towards the development of an AIDS vaccine through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people lived with the disease worldwide, and it claimed the lives of an estimated 2.1 million people, including 330,000 children.
Over three quarters of these deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.