Canada punches above its weight in HIV vaccine research

September 11, 2012

Many Canadians don't know it but Canada is a major contributor to global efforts to develop an HIV vaccine.

An analysis of HIV vaccine research over the past five years (2007-2012) shows that Canada is first per capita in the number of articles published when compared to other leading nations involved in HIV-vaccine research (i.e., United States, United Kingdom, France and South Africa). What's more, Canada ranks fourth globally in the total number of scholarly articles published on HIV vaccine-related research.

"Canada's research output compares favorably to world leading countries in HIV-vaccine development," says Dr. Greg Hammond, director of the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI) Research and Development Alliance Coordinating Office (ACO). "Canada's global role in HIV vaccine research is also evident in the world-class scientific collaborations involving Canadian researchers."

Of the published HIV vaccine-related research involving Canadian scientists over the past five years, approximately 90 per cent was collaborative in nature, involving either multiple Canadian institutions or researchers worldwide. Among these collaborative efforts, Canadian scientists appeared as first and/or last authors on approximately 72 per cent of published articles, revealing the leadership and impact of Canadian research.

With the support of SHI Consulting Inc., the ACO recently consulted with HIV vaccine researchers, industry, funders, and non-profit organizations across Canada and the United States for strategic direction on Canada's ongoing contribution. It subsequently released a White Paper, entitled Building Linkages, Achieving Impact: A Framework to Guide the Canadian HIV Vaccine Research and Development Alliance, which highlights Canada's strengths in HIV vaccine research and the direction moving forward.

Meanwhile, a recent Probe Research poll, also commissioned by the ACO, shows that 81 per cent of Canadians think Canada should play a major role in international efforts to develop an HIV vaccine. Of the 1,500 people surveyed, 19 per cent viewed it as a top priority and 62 per cent saw it as a major priority*.

"Canadians want Canada to be involved in finding a vaccine to stop the HIV pandemic," says Heather Medwick, CEO of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases - a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that runs the ACO. "Even though most of the 34 million people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries, HIV is a major concern in developed nations like Canada where the rate of new infections has increased dramatically among vulnerable populations over the past decade."

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"Canadians want Canada to be involved in finding a vaccine to stop the HIV pandemic," says Heather Medwick, CEO of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases