According to the latest report just released by the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group, funding for rectal microbicides research has decreased significantly in the past 2 years.

When IRMA last tracked resources dedicated to RM research in 2006, we estimated that US$7.2 million was spent globally. According to the report Adapting to Realities: Trends in HIV Prevention Research Funding 2000-2008, released earlier this week, that amount decreased to US$5 million in 2008.

7X more funding needed
In 2006, IRMA called for a five-fold increase in annual funding for rectal microbicide research and development: from about US$7 million to US$35 million per year for the next 10 years. This is what we estimated would be needed – conservatively – to bring at least one effective rectal microbicide through all stages of research.

Now, we need a seven-fold increase from US$5 million to US$35 million.

More diverse funding needed
Nearly 100% of all global investment for rectal microbicides development comes from one source: US public and philanthropic institutions. Most of this US investment comes from the government. While this support is appreciated, a much more diverse funding base is needed.

Where are the governments and research institutions? Where are the foundations?

The Netherlands?
The UK?
The European Commission?
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?
The Rockefeller Foundation?
The World Bank?

All of them have contributed to microbicides research, for which we are eternally grateful. But they should also contribute specifically to rectal microbicide research. The entire rectal microbicides field should not be funded solely by the US NIH and amfAR.

Recognised need
It is ironic that in the same time period that saw rectal microbicides become increasingly recognised as an essential component of HIV prevention research, global investment faltered.

Investment in rectal microbicide development MUST INCREASE at this critical time when the HIV prevention field is more willing than ever to acknowledge the need to address the prevention needs of those who engage in anal sex: heterosexual women and men, gay men and other men who have sex with men from around the world – including in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.

Funds needed to move research agenda forward
Exciting research projects are ready to move forward: rectal safety trials, rectal-specific formulation work, lubricant safety, acceptability research, research into incidence, prevalence and context of anal intercourse in various populations around the world. More funding is desperately needed to maintain a robust research agenda.

Read the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group report: Adapting to Realities: Trends in HIV Prevention Research Funding 2000-2008

Read IRMA’s 2008 report: Less Silence, More Science: Advocacy to Make Rectal Microbicides a Reality

Join efforts to advocate for more investment in rectal microbicide development!