Bill Gates ‘hope­ful’ of an AIDS vac­cine within 10 years

The China Post - - LIFE -

Bil­lion­aire and phi­lan­thropist Bill Gates, who spends mil­lions of dol­lars on AIDS drug de­vel­op­ment, said Fri­day he hoped for a vac­cine against the dis­ease within the next decade as a cure re­mains far off.

“Prob­a­bly the top pri­or­ity is a vac­cine. If we had a vac­cine that can pro­tect peo­ple, we can stop the epi­demic,” the Mi­crosoft mogul said on the side­lines of an an­tiAIDS- themed con­cert in Paris which he backs.

Since 1981, about 78 mil­lion peo­ple have been in­fected by HIV, which de­stroys im­mune cells and leaves the body ex­posed to tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, pneu­mo­nia and other op­por­tunis­tic dis­eases.

Thirty-nine mil­lion have died, ac­cord­ing to U.N. es­ti­mates, and about 35 mil­lion are liv­ing with the im­mune sys­tem-de­stroy­ing virus to­day, over­whelm­ingly in poor coun­tries.

Gates said the quest for an AIDS vac­cine has taken longer than ex­pected, with many dis­ap­point­ments along the way.

His char­i­ta­ble Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion spends about US$400 mil­lion a year on AIDS drug re­search, he told jour­nal­ists, and will con­tinue to do so for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“A vac­cine, that’s a big area of fund­ing for our foun­da­tion. But even in the best case that’s five years away, and per­haps as long as 10,” he said in a ques­tion-an­dan­swer ses­sion with young peo­ple.

“There will con­tinue to be sub­stan­tial num­ber of peo­ple in­fected ... So we have to keep fo­cused (and) get more ef­fi­cient.”

For now, find­ing a cure does not ap­pear re­al­is­tic, said Gates. “There’s not even an­i­mal stud­ies on that yet.”

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