American HIV researcher Dr David Baltimore’s statement that we are no closer to finding a vaccine is being questioned by local HIV/AIDS organisations, as the need for more microbicide research is highlighted.

In a speech to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Baltimore, a Nobel Prize Laureate for his discovery of the enzyme which allows the HIV virus to reproduce, said; We’ve been working on a vaccine [since the 1980s] and we are no closer to a vaccine now than we were then.

You are quite within bounds to ask, if it’s been 10 years away for 20 years, does that mean it’s really never going to happen? There are people who are saying it will never happen.

Positive Life spokesperson Rob Lake said more research was vital.

While it would be unwise of us to put all our faith in a reliable, affordable vaccine being found, that research must continue, he said.

ACON community health director Nick Corrigan disagreed with the American research.

I don’t really agree with Baltimore that we are no closer, because any research, even studies that have a negative result, help us to know what doesn’t work and what direction we should be heading in, he said.

Continued research into preventative measures is of particular concern in the developing world, where increased funds are being allocated to microbicide research.

The development of microbicide creams, gels or rings it is hoped would dramatically cut the number of new infections, particularly in women who make up 50 percent of the HIV population worldwide.

Realistically speaking it is going to be a long time until a vaccine or effective preventative measures are found, but we are all looking to the future when there will be effective microbicides, which would have a particular impact in the third world, Corrigan said.

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