By Mustapha Yauri
Dr Sani Aliyu, the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), says the world has made significant progress on HIV vaccine research and it is inching closer to licensable HIV vaccines.
The director-general made this known at news conference as part of activities to commemorate the 2017 World HIV Vaccine Advocacy Day on Thursday in Abuja.
Aliyu said the world has made significant progress in HIV vaccine research over the last 30 years when HIV was discovered.
According to him, in 2009 the vaccine field achieved proof-of-concept that a preventive HIV vaccine is possible.
“In 2012, three different HIV vaccine development approaches are moving to efficacy trials simultaneously; two the three are vaccine candidates and the third is a vaccine related approach.’’
The director-general said NACA is working with the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) to fast-track HIV vaccine research in Nigeria.
Aliyu said that Nigeria has invested heavily in the planning and preparing for HIV vaccine research to be conducted in the country, with several competent researchers in the field in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria also had a National HIV vaccine plan to provide a framework and facilitate the process of research.
He added that NACA’s dream was to ensure that Nigerians have access to an effective HIV vaccine soon.
“While we wait for this research breakthrough, we shall continue to facilitate access of Nigerians to existing HIV prevention tools.
“Elimination of Mother to child Transmission of HIV is a priority for the country and a goal that must be achieved,’’ Aliyu said.
He said the agency is working to ensure all barriers to access to treatment are removed.
Mr Godwin Odemijie, representative of New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Society, an NGO, said May 18, 2017, is the 20th Anniversary of HIV vaccine advocacy day.
Odemijie said the day is to remind policy makers, partners and key stakeholders the need to develop vaccine to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“We will continue to talk about the prevalence of AIDS not total elimination if we don’t have a vaccine in place, it is a potent vaccine that can really check the incidence of HIV,’’ he said.