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Open Science Monitor
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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


Photo of a researcher demonstrating the contraption

Sucker punch: the European research project dealing a blow to mosquitoes

Mankind has been at war with mosquitoes down through the ages because of the threat they pose through malaria. ""I've been in the business of mosquitoes for the last 22 years, studying these insects not only because they are fascinating, but also because they cause a lot of trouble in the world through diseases like malaria, which still every year cause the death of more than 700,000 people worldwide," says Bart Knols, a medical entomologist.

New breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer and AIDS

Cancer and AIDS have compromised the quality of life for millions of people around the globe, and, despite recent breakthroughs, they still represent major challenges for the medical and scientific community. In 2011 alone, an estimated 3.8 million Europeans developed cancer and 2.1 million of them lost their lives as a result. At the end of the same year, it was estimated that around 940,000 people in Europe were living with AIDS, while scientists observe an alarming tendency for increased transmission in several countries.


Read more success stories related to HIV/AIDS research