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