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World AIDS Day - 1 December 2014

Research on HIV/AIDS has been a top priority for the European Union ever since the first AIDS programme was adopted in 1987. Through its successive programmes for research, the EU has supported the development, testing and optimisation of treatments, preventive tools and novel diagnostics.

From 2007 to 2013, under the 7th EU programme for research, the EU invested nearly € 175 million in research on HIV/AIDS. Thanks to this, some 10 candidates for vaccines, microbicides and drugs have entered human trials. Furthermore, the biggest database of HIV-infected individuals in the world was created, with data from 300 000 HIV + individuals from Europe and beyond. This database will provide new insights into the clinical management of the disease, improving our understanding of how HIV emerges and evolves, and help researchers to develop personalised treatments for HIV-positive patients.

Under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme for 2014-2020, research on HIV/AIDS remains a priority.

The European Union is also active in sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death. Together with European countries, in 2003 it created the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) to finance capacity building and clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. EDCTP has so far dedicated €68 million to HIV research allowing 30 clinical trials of improved treatments and new vaccine candidates to be launched.

Starting in December 2014, EDCTP2 (2014-2024) will be supported by the European Union to the tune of € 683 million, while European countries plan to invest around € 1.5 billion. EDCTP2 will reinforce and extend the partnership between European and sub-Saharan African participating states, and other international funders of clinical research and related capacity-building in the fight against poverty-related diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.

Here are two examples of successful, EU-funded HIV/AIDS research projects

 

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Better cervical cancer prevention for African women living with HIV

A weakened immune system makes HIV-positive women particularly vulnerable to persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, which can lead to cervical cancer. With patchy screening, cervical cancer rates in Africa are especially high. Simple HPV screening could help save lives, an EU-funded project found.

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Stem cells: from frontier research project to promising spin-off company

Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) are blood cells located in the bone marrow. These cells are extensively used in research to develop treatments for many severe diseases, including HIV and multiple sclerosis, and their transplant is a key therapy for certain types of cancer like leukemia and multiple myeloma. However, the use of HSCs is seriously constrained by their limited availability since growing them in the lab does not produce very large quantities. There is therefore an urgent need for methods allowing scientists to multiply HSCs, without losing any of their properties.

 

Read more success stories related to HIV/AIDS research