Date: Tuesday, July 9, 1996
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: HHS Press Office(202)690-6343
Shalala Announces HIV Prevention Initiative; Calls for Accelerated Effort on Microbicides
VANCOUVER -- Noting the enormous progress made recently in treating HIV disease, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced a new integrated HIV prevention research strategy including a "focused and forceful global effort" to develop safe and effective topical microbicides to help women protect themselves against HIV infection.
Speaking to the Eleventh International Conference on AIDS, Shalala said that the U.S. will increase its commitment to HIV prevention research. She also noted that in the last three years, the U.S. government has nearly tripled its commitment to research into topical microbicides and pledged to spend a cumulative total of more than $100 million over the next four years to research and develop topical microbicides for women.
Shalala announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will each increase its spending on microbicide research in fiscal year 1997 in an effort to accelerate progress in this field. Shalala also called on other developed nations to increase their commitment to microbicide research and asked pharmaceutical manufacturers to make the development of topical microbicides a priority.
"The development of safe and effective topical microbicides will give women around the world the power to protect themselves against HIV without fear of abuse or condemnation," Shalala said.
The microbicide initiative is part of an overall approach to increasing the U.S. investment in HIV prevention at both NIH and CDC. Those elements include:
- The development of an integrated program of vaccine research at NIH developed in close collaboration with the biotechnology industry and under new leadership from an extramural scientist. Funding for vaccine research at NIH will increase to $116 million in FY1997 from $109 million in fiscal year 1996.
- The development of a prevention sciences initiative at NIH to address both non-vaccine biomedical and behavioral prevention research, including further research into abstinence. Funding for behavioral research at NIH will increase to $180 million in FY1997 from $174 million in FY1996.
- As part of its overall AIDS research budget, NIH will spend $25 million on research into topical microbicides.
- A greater focus by the CDC on the prevention needs of women, substance abusers, and young adults. Overall funding for CDC's prevention efforts will increase to $617 million in FY1997 from $583 million in FY1996.
- As part of its prevention budget, CDC will spend approximately $4 million on research into topical microbicides.
Shalala said the recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration of a new class of AIDS drugs known as protease inhibitors has brought "real reason for hope" to millions of people around the world who are living with HIV or AIDS.
But Shalala noted that progress in treatment of HIV disease should not diminish the global dedication to AIDS prevention. "The best way to extend the length and quality of people's lives is to make sure that they do not become infected with HIV in the first place," she said.
Nearly half of the estimated 20 million people around the world who are infected with HIV are women. In the U.S., women are one of the populations experiencing the sharpest increases in infection rates. In addition, maternal transmission is the major factor leading to pediatric AIDS cases.
Topical microbicides could be in gel, foam, or suppository form. They would be used by women to protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Unlike latex condoms, which are currently the most frequently used barrier method for HIV prevention, microbicides would be female controlled.