According to the 2002 statistics released by UNAIDS (the joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS) and WHO (World Health Organization), the AIDS epidemic claimed more than 3 million lives in 2002 alone, while the estimated number of HIV cases amounts to 42 million including 5 million people newly infected with HIV. In recent years, the number of HIV infected people has remarkably been on the rise in China, which is causing widespread concern of HIV epidemic in East Asia. Also, Japan is the only country among the developed nations, which has been unable to stop the increase of new HIV cases each year. In fact, the number of HIV-sero positive per 100,000 blood donors in Japan has already exceeded the danger level of one (1.368 in 2001, 1.418 in 2002), implying an exponential growth of HIV-positive patients in the future.
It has been 20 years since the discovery of HIV virus, and it is becoming possible to prolong life in the developed countries thanks to the advancement of AIDS research and anti-HIV drugs. However, for those countries, which have no or little access to the benefit of anti-HIV drugs, AIDS remains to be a deadly disease. Even for the developed countries, AIDS still is a serious disease due to emergence of drug-resistant virus and the problem of side effect. Meanwhile, the Declaration of Commitment was adopted at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on HIV/AIDS to make its utmost efforts to contain AIDS, which poses a serious threat to human beings.
Kumamoto University’s Center for AIDS Research (CAIDS) was established in 1997 as the first research facilities on AIDS among Japanese universities. Kumamoto University is well known for its research on HTLV-1, a human retrovirus. And it has been actively involved in studies of inflammation and immunology. These backgrounds are thought to have contributed to the establishment of this center.
Vaccine development for the prevention of HIV infection is much hoped for in countries of Africa and Asia, while an alternative treatment to drug therapy is strongly desired in the developed countries. Taking into consideration such situation on AIDS and the research background in Kumamoto, CAIDS is dedicated to AIDS research focusing on study of immunology, and strives for the development of new, immune-based treatment and vaccine development. We would welcome many young scientists and students to join our research team. We would appreciate understanding and support for this center.