Wednesday, August 13, 2008

International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) Receives €1.5Million Contribution from Spain - Comment from Jim Pickett of IRMA

While IRMA applauds these new and important resources from the government of Spain to IPM (see press release below) - there remains a few concerns that must be mentioned.

1. Seeing as how gay men and MSM are terribly underserved across the globe and at enormous risk for HIV infection (which we heard about in terrifying detail each and every day at the IAC), and seeing as how the vast majority of the European epidemic is, in fact, driven by gay men and MSM - when are EU governments going to provide resources for the development of safe, effective and acceptable rectal microbicides? Of course, many, many women also engage in anal intercourse, most of it unprotected and very risky in terms of HIV acquisition - so rectal microbicides are of huge importance for HUMANS - both men and women. When will the EU and IPM acknowledge this and put resources into this important endeavor?

2. IPM continues to use inaccurate language in its public communications. IRMA would like to see a generic definition of microbicides that does not exclude men as end-users. This statement, from the release below - "Microbicides are products being developed to prevent HIV transmission to women during sexual intercourse." - is not false, it simply leaves out half the population and the millions and millions of gay men and MSM who need new forms of protection. This statement would be clear and accurate if "to women" was removed, for instance. Very simple.

IPM's CEO Zeda Rosenberg said this last Monday in a plenary on vaccines and microbicides in Mexico City -

"Rectal microbicides are incredibly important, and need to be developed."

When will see evidence of this statement? Both in terms of the use of clear and accurate language to generically describe microbicides (not organizational mission) and resources from IPM and/or the EU that focus on the research and development of rectal microbicides?

Jim Pickett
Chair, IRMA

PS - David Munar of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago just pointed out the folowing - "The statement: 'Microbicides are products being developed to prevent HIV transmission to women during sexual intercourse,' also negates the needs of HIV-positive women who need effective topical products to protect their HIV-negative male partners from infection."


International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) Receives €1.5Million Contribution from Spain

Spain Contributes €1.5 Million to Global Efforts to Help Women Protect Themselves from HIV

MEXICO CITY (4 Aug. 2008) – The government of Spain has announced its first contribution to the international effort to develop a microbicide that would offer women a promising new option to protect themselves from HIV infection.

The Spanish government will contribute €1.5 million in 2008 to the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), a non-profit organization working to develop safe and effective microbicides and make them accessible to women in the developing world.

The announcement was made on Aug. 3 at the opening ceremony of the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, where 22,000 scientists, policymakers and health advocates have gathered to consider the latest in HIV prevention, care and treatment. This year marks the first time the meeting has convened in Latin America.

Spanish First Vice President María Teresa Fernández de la Vega made the announcement, accompanied by strong remarks about the importance of HIV responses specifically for women. Fernández de la Vega is also the country’s first female vice president.

Microbicides are products being developed to prevent HIV transmission to women during sexual intercourse. More than 18 million women around the world are living with HIV, and in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa young women are more than three times as likely to be infected as young men. Globally, 7,000 new cases of HIV infection and almost 6,000 AIDS-related deaths occur each day. Spain’s funding will support the scientific development and clinical testing of new candidate microbicides with the potential to help reverse these trends.

IPM is developing microbicides based on the same antiretroviral drugs that are being used successfully in HIV treatment around the world. “We applaud Spain’s contribution to the effort to protect women and girls from HIV infection,” said Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, chief executive officer of IPM in Silver Spring, Md., United States. “Spain’s support will speed the day when a microbicide can help bring a halt to this pandemic.”

“Microbicides represent a unique option for women around the world to protect their own health and safeguard themselves from HIV as never before,” said Marion Zibelli of Planeta Salud, a non-profit organization based in Barcelona. “Spain can be proud that we are supporting this crucial part of the global fight against HIV/AIDS. This contribution is only the latest example of Spain’s commitment to improve health in the developing world, especially for women.”

Spain joins a growing list of governments and foundations that support this promising research. They include the governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Commission, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Bank.

Spain’s contribution is part of a larger €10.2 million commitment that also includes €3 million for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

About IPM
IPM is a non-profit organization established in 2002 to prevent HIV transmission by accelerating the development and availability of safe and effective vaginal microbicides in developing countries. IPM screens compounds, assesses the methods women are most likely to use, establishes manufacturing capacity and conducts large-scale efficacy trials. In the process, IPM helps to improve the efficiency of all efforts to develop and deliver microbicides as soon as possible. IPM has offices in Belgium, the United States, and South Africa.

About Planeta Salud

Planeta Salud – Nuevos Instrumentos para el Desarrollo (Planet Health – New Tools for Development) is a Spain-based non-profit organisation that works to improve life expectancy and quality of life for people living with HIV, tuberculosis or malaria, and for people at risk for those illnesses worldwide. Planeta Salud promotes scientific investigation and new products designed to treat and prevent disease, including the development of therapeutic and prophylactic tools such as drugs, vaccines and microbicides. Planeta Salud, in collaboration with other international organizations and local community networks, educates the public, raises awareness and works with political stakeholders to obtain the support of Spanish policymakers and institutions.


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