The Institute of Human Virology just received $23 million to develop a new vaccine, but what of the millions who go untreated?
On Friday I chaired a lively meeting of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, founded by leading AIDS researcher Dr. Robert C. Gallo. The week before, Bob had announced that we had received $23 million in new funding for an HIV/AIDS vaccine. The funds came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Army, and others, including the National Institutes of Health.
I thought about how much had changed since Bob had co-discovered the AIDS virus in 1984 and since 1996, when then-Governor Parris Glendening and I recruited him and his team to Maryland. While researchers are still struggling to develop a preventive vaccine, the treatment of HIV/AIDS has drastically changed. For most of the developed world, HIV/AIDS has been transformed from a death sentence to a chronic disease.
Unfortunately, this isn't the case in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where millions don't have access to life-saving drugs. For them the death sentence has not been commuted.
Over the last 14 years, the Institute of Human Virology has expanded from a small facility with less than a $10 million annual operating budget to a $114 million worldwide operation with a staff of 300 in Baltimore and many more overseas. We treat over 5,000 patients in Baltimore and are the largest recipient of U.S. government funds for HIV/AID programs in Africa and the Caribbean, where we provide antiretroviral drugs to 500,000 people.