IAVI and IPM: Development of new tools in HIV prevention

The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) are pleased to have Sex og Politikk as their civil society partner in Norway to support their advocacy efforts around the development of new tools in HIV prevention. The benefit of vaccines as one of the most cost-effective public health tools for preventing deadly and debilitating infectious diseases are well understood but microbicides probably need explaining. The term «microbicide» refers to substances in research that could be used in the vagina and/or rectum to reduce the risk of HIV infection via sexual exposure.

Microbicides could come in a number of forms including creams, gels, films and the method used by IPM- a vaginal ring that release the active ingredient over a few weeks or months (slow-release). IPM has successfully completed a Phase III trial- The Ring Study led by IPM in collaboration with a sister study, ASPIRE, led by the US National Institutes of Health-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) showed that the monthly dapivirine ring safely reduced HIV infection overall by 31 percent compared to a placebo. Based on the results IPM is planning an Open-label extension (OLE) study that would provide previous Ring Study participants with the dapivirine ring, and help answer critical questions about the product and its use while it is under regulatory review for licensure. We hope that knowledge of the ring’s safety and efficacy would encourage its use, as seen in oral PrEP OLEs. Pending approvals, this study could begin as soon as Summer 2016. Discussions are taking place about a similar OLE study for ASPIRE participants. – See more here.

IAVI has worked for many years on designing innovative approaches to enable the development of widely effective preventive HIV vaccine candidates with significant results achieved in recent years: new vaccine concepts are increasingly moving towards getting ready for clinical testing, whilst other work has generated new insights and technologies which offer the potential to also advance vaccine development for other diseases such as TB, influenza and Ebola, all areas of research in which Norway also invests as part of its broader global health programme.

The work of both IPM and IAVI along with other new product developers in the not for profit sector have significantly benefitted from the long standing support and commitment of the Norwegian Government through Norad. Last year the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was commissioned to review MFA/Norad’s support to global health product development. The review made a strong case for continued investment with the following recommendations, which we welcome, that MFA/Norad would sustain and reinforce its role as a ‘small and smart’ funder of global health product development in the coming years, by:

  • Maintaining its current levels of global health product development funding; and, if possible, increasing its funding in the longer term
  • Continuing to support the currently funded PDPs, while maintaining its flexible funding approach based on core funding and increasing the predictability of its funding through expanded grant cycles (from three years to at least six years)
  • Continuing to invest in pooled financing mechanisms for RMNCH related product innovations – as a way to decrease the burden of interactions between funders and product developers -and considering to increase Norway’s investment in product development in the longer term in line with the CEWG recommendation of spending 0.01% of GDP for this purpose
  • Improving coordination of global health product development funding with other funders

The full evaluation report can be found here.

Find the open letter to Nordic Prime Ministers’ meeting with president Obama on May 13th (BÖRNEfonden, Hiv-Danmark, Hiv-Norge, Hiv-Sverige, LHL International, RFSL, RFSU, Sex og Politikk, Världs Infektionsfonden, Aids-Fondet)