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Health News of Thursday, 17 June 2021

Source: universnewsroom.com

Stronger collaborations needed to find HIV vaccine – Dr. Evelyn Bonney

Research Fellow at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Evelyn Bonney Research Fellow at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Evelyn Bonney

Research Fellow at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana, Dr. Evelyn Bonney, is calling for stronger collaboration among stakeholders in order to find an HIV vaccine.

She says that the development of a vaccine for the disease has proven to be a complex challenge, hence, the need for them to come together.

Dr. Bonney made this call whilst delivering a lecture at a public forum organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra.

“We need to work less in silos and bring both the big and the small together to complement each other in achieving this goal…Continual collaborations, adequate funding and applying all the lessons learnt from the past, and working together with urgency will lead us to an HIV vaccine sooner than later,” she said

The Researcher says that scientists are on the verge of finding a vaccine for HIV after over 35 years of work.

She explained that the delay in finding a vaccine for the virus was because of its complex nature.

That notwithstanding, she said that researchers will not give up on finding a vaccine for the disease.

“We need to understand the virus that we are dealing with. We have to understand that HIV is unique, it is beautiful and it is complex. The way HIV causes diseases are making it difficult for us to find a vaccine but we are not giving up."

"In HIV, we have many variants, we have types, we have sub-types and we have sub-sub-type, we have strains and we have recombinants. Some of us know HIV as just HIV but that is not the whole story,” she educated.

Dr. Bonney stressed the need for joint efforts in fighting the disease as about 38 million people were living with the virus, as of 2019.

Even though antiretroviral drugs were available, the Researcher with Noguchi, mentioned that less than 50% of people living with HIV had access to therapy.

“There is antiretroviral therapy but it’s not accessible to everybody. We have about 33% of the people who don’t even have it, to start it. Before we start looking at whether the therapy is working,” she mentioned.

“Until we are able to prevent new HIV infections, effectively treat and even cure the 38 million infected people worldwide, we cannot stop the AIDS epidemic,” she said.

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