Nigeria is committed to joining forces to ensure we not only develop a HIV vaccine, but ensure we address barriers and challenges to its access when developed.
Stating this in commemoration of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day on the 18th of May, 2018, Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said the nation is leading the policy formulation landscape, through relevant trainings and advocacy for access to the finished product. “We are committed to ensuring Nigeria is not left behind in the race to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic. We join HIV vaccine advocates to urge the international community to continue to recognise the importance of investing in new technologies as a critical element of a comprehensive response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. “The race to developing a HIV vaccine is a marathon race. Slow and steady but assuredly that the end will be sooner than later. It requires investment, hard work, and the non-stop commitment towards a goal. The race requires countries around the world to invest in research that makes it feasible for its citizens to benefit from the global research,” he noted. According to Salako: “Researchers in NIMR are aware that the strain of the HIV virus that circulates in Nigeria is quite distinct from other strains circulating elsewhere. It is the least responsive to VRC01. For this reason, the Institute is watching the field as it evolves so it acts responsibly for the care of Nigerians. In his view: “NIMR Lagos is a household name in the fight against HIV epidemic. Since 2002, we have not only provided comprehensive HIV care treatment and support to over 24,000 Nigerian adults, pregnant women and children, but have also set the pace in innovative care delivery. In recent times, we have sought for collaboration with leading HIV research institutions in Africa to improve our research outcomes, including research for a HIV vaccine highly sensitive to the Nigerian HIV strain.”