New Delhi: Recently Dr Rajat Goyal, Country Director – India, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Timothy H Holtz, Program Director at Division of Global HIV and TB/India, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) addressed a public talk about the challenges of translating science into public health benefit.
The experts lauded Government of India’s commitment to furthering HIV research, through their proactive programmes and initiatives in partnership with countries including South-Africa and Netherlands, for the same.
Dr Goyal and Dr Holtz, also discussed the role of partnerships in translating science into public health benefit – in the backdrop of lessons from HIV, how vaccines and PrEP can propel change, recent breakthroughs in vaccine research, viable products including PrEP, impact of external environment and global geo-political shifts on translation of products, need for creative North-South, South-South and multi-sectoral partnerships in expediting innovative product development.
Highlighting India’s role in propelling global R&D efforts, Dr Rajat Goyal, Country Director – India, IAVI, said, “Globally, innovative programmes have been launched, to tackle infectious diseases. Due to this, there is a diversity of programmes that are currently working in silos. These programmes must be integrated so that we all can address the problem, together. For this, countries across the world must develop end-to-end research capability which will, in turn, accelerate outcomes.”
“It is time that we started looking at in-country leadership and a huge amount of partnership, focussed on translational research,” he added.
Sharing his experience on how we can accelerate HIV treatment prevention, Dr. Timothy H Holtz, Program Director at Division of Global HIV and TB/India, CDC, said, “We don’t think PrEP is a magic bullet. There is cost, coverage, adherence and risk-consultation issues. But we need to keep searching for a safe, accessible and effective biomedical intervention. The implementation of PrEP has already begun in many countries. Hopefully, we will get a highly effective vaccine soon and with that, we could control the HIV epidemic, in our lifetime.”
Dr Rajat Goyal heads the IAVI India office, where he oversees the strategic direction of the country program. IAVI’s India program includes an array of HIV vaccine-related scientific, advocacy and community activities. Dr Timothy H Holtz, Program Director at Division of Global HIV and TB/India, CDC, too, is currently working in collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to increase access to HIV care and treatment, improve HIV testing yield, and decrease stigma and discrimination.
India has over 2.1 million people living with HIV, the third largest prevalence in the world. Despite the success of National AIDS Control Program to bring down the incidence and mortality rates of HIV/AIDS, yet only 43 percent of those affected have access to antiretroviral therapy treatment (ART).