Last week, Greg visited the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) lab within Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, alongside representatives from international development charity ResultsUK. Here, he saw how theories for potential AIDS vaccines are tested, as well as how IAVI store samples from up to 15 years ago.
AIDS remains one of the world's most devastating diseases, claiming one million lives each year. An effective HIV vaccine would be transformative, preventing infection and transmission and negating the need for daily, lifelong drug treatments, making any potential vaccine one of the most successful and cost-effective public health tools.
The Human Immunology Lab at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital is one of IAVI's four discovery laboratories globally, and works with more than 50 academic, industrial and government organisations around the world.
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative was founded to develop a safe, effective, accessible HIV vaccine, bringing together academics, the private sector, donors and affected communities to advance research and development.
IAVI has now designed 22 AIDS vaccine candidates and has tested 13 in Phase I and II clinical trials. Two new trials are set to start in the coming months, one in London and one in Rwanda.
While the UK government remains a major investor into global health research and development, neither the Department for International Development or Department of Health currently make investments in HIV vaccines research. Ensuring sustainable and balanced financing will be crucial to ensuring that there is a pipeline of new medical tools for the future.