Global Health Press
AIDS vaccine could be here in five years – Bill Gates

AIDS vaccine could be here in five years – Bill Gates

AIDSBillionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, who spends millions of dollars on AIDS drug development, hopes for a vaccine against the disease within the next five to 10 years, even as a cure is still elusive.

A vaccine can stop the epidemic, the Microsoft mogul said on the sidelines of an anti-AIDS-themed concert in Paris which he backs.

Since 1981, about 78 million people have been infected by HIV, which destroys immune cells and exposes the body to tuberculosis, pneumonia and other opportunistic diseases.

Thirty-nine million have died, according to UN estimates. About 35 million are living with the immune system-destroying virus today, overwhelmingly in poor countries.

Gates said the quest for an AIDS vaccine has taken longer than expected, with many disappointments along the way.

His charitable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will continue to spend about $400 million a year on AIDS drug research.

Cure ‘unrealistic’

“A vaccine, that’s a big area of funding for our foundation, but even in the best case that’s five years away, perhaps as long as 10,” he said.

“There will continue to be substantial number of people infected… We have to keep focused (and) get more efficient.”
For now, finding a cure does not appear realistic, said Gates.

In the next 15 years, he hopes vaccines would have eradicated polio, and stopped the spread of HIV and malaria.

Currently, the only way of dealing with HIV are cocktails of antiretroviral drugs, invented in the 1990s, to suppress replication of the virus.

The search for a vaccine has been one of the most frustrating chapters of the AIDS saga. Traditional antibody-based vaccine candidates have failed to put up more than a partial shield, partly because of virus mutations.
Treatment is lifelong, carries side effects and for many health systems, the drugs bill is spiralling.