NAIROBI, 15 December 2009 (PlusNews) - In what is being hailed as
a boost for African involvement in AIDS research, Uganda has been
selected to host the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP),
formerly based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The AAVP, a network of African HIV vaccine stakeholders whose
mission is to promote HIV vaccine development for Africa, has
operated under the stewardship of the UN World Health
Organization's department of immunization vaccines and
biologicals since its formation in 2000.
"As two-thirds of the global AIDS epidemic is situated on our
continent, we welcome the transition of the African AIDS Vaccine
Programme to Africa; Uganda is honoured to have been chosen to
host this programme," said Stephen Mallinga, the Ugandan Minister
of Health, at the fifth AAVP Forum, under way in Kampala.
"With so many lives at stake, we take our responsibility
seriously and pledge to work tirelessly towards the day when a
safe effective vaccine will be available to protect Africans from
this devastating illness."
The transition to a fully functional African programme began more
than a year ago and will be completed in 2010; the Uganda Virus
Research Institute (UVRI), a leading research institute based in
Entebbe, will be its new headquarters.
"Geneva has been nurturing the AAVP and it was crawling; we are
ready to make it grow," said Pontiano Kaleebu, the assistant
director of UVRI.
"The search [for an AIDS vaccine] has been elusive, but we hope
to make a lot of progress with the hosting of the AAVP in
Africa," said David Kihumuro Apuuli, director-general of the
Uganda Aids Commission.