Microbicides and Vaccines
Mass vaccination of populations is one of the most effective ways of fighting infectious disease — but there is not yet any effective vaccine against HIV.
Developing and distributing globally one or more effective HIV vaccines is crucial to ending the epidemic. Vaccine research and development efforts are only one part of a comprehensive response to the epidemic. Other complementary HIV prevention strategies, including microbicides that would help block sexual transmission of HIV, are equally important.
Research into both HIV vaccines and microbicides is underway, but needs to be increased significantly, given the urgency and scale of the AIDS crisis, and the scientific complexity involved. Related legal questions and human rights issues include
- ensuring informed consent to participate in clinical trials;
- ensuring meaningful involvement of people living with HIV and marginalized people in decision-making about vaccine and other clinical trials in communities where trials are taking place;
- human rights concerns specific to women, children or vulnerable persons involved in such trials (for example, gender inequality puts many women at greater risk of HIV infection because they are often unable to insist on condom use or other safer sex practices with their sexual partners, making vaccines and microbicides particularly important as a means of protection against HIV); and
- ensuring universal access to microbicides and vaccines, once they are developed.
Through its research and advocacy, the Legal Network encourages greater collaboration among activists in the fields of HIV treatments, microbicides and vaccines.