Scientists: Prospects bleak for vaccine

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The global economic turmoil is likely to take its toll on AIDS research funding and add to the problems plaguing the search for a vaccine against the virus, scientists warned Tuesday.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was impossible to predict whether scientists would ever be able to develop an effective vaccine, as they have for other killers such as smallpox and measles.

“Will there be a guarantee that we will get a vaccine in the classical sense? Realistically you can’t say that,” Fauci said. “But that doesn’t mean we are going to give up trying.”

Nine hundred experts are attending the international AIDS vaccine conference in Cape Town, at the epicenter of an epidemic that has infected an estimated 33 million people, of whom 5.5 million are in South Africa.

The economic downturn has added to the gloom among experts deeply frustrated by research setbacks. A recent trial showed that one potential vaccine not only failed to prevent infection but appeared to increase the risk of contracting the virus.

Now there is added concern that philanthropic organizations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who have become major players in health and development projects may cut back on funding.

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

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