In a speech on Sunday in Baltimore, President Clinton is expected to ask researchers to develop an AIDS vaccine within 10 years. White House officials today were still debating details of the controversial initiative, say Administration sources, and some researchers fear that any timetable will raise public expectations of a cure for the disease.
In April, the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS recommended that Clinton "declare an urgent goal of developing a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS within a decade." The goal "is clearly feasible and should be considered of the highest priority for our government," the group stated. But the panel rejected a suggestion from some of its members that spending on vaccine research and development be tripled to $400 million annually. Instead, the 33-member panel from government, industry, academia, and advocacy groups called for "a significant and sustained increase in funds."
Researchers are split on the wisdom of a timetable, which the president will lay out during a commencement address at Morgan State University in Baltimore. "It's folly to give a date," said panelist Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at the panel's April meeting. But panelist Yichen Lu of the Virus Research Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, disagreed, saying a date would create "a sense of urgency."