Despite the best efforts of some of the world's most prominent scientists, a vaccine that would protect against the disease is still a long way from reality. Drugs that help fight the virus and alleviate the disease symptoms are available, but are expensive and unavailable to many sufferers living in the world's developing countries. In addition, many countries are still failing to tackle the social issues that lead to the further spread of the disease.
Against this background, and on the eve of AIDS 2004, the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) have issued a Joint statement on HIV/AIDS in the developing world, calling for greater involvement of developing world scientists in research initiatives designed to treat and mitigate the disease. Both organizations are particularly keen to enlist African scientists in this campaign.
Specifically, TWAS and AAS believe that the discovery and development of new drugs and vaccines to combat HIV/AIDS should also be conducted through South-South collaboration, using the expertise present in the many centres of scientific excellence in the developing world.
"Such a programme of support would not only allow the enormous potential of developing countries' flora and fauna to be investigated for novel pharmaceutical products, but would also help stem the 'brain drain' a major problem for the development of scientific capacity in the South, and especially in sub-Saharan Africa," says Gideon Okelo, Professor of Medicine at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and AAS Secretary General and Executive Director.
"It would als