Italian AIDS Switchback

AIDS researchers in Italy are celebrating a government decision to rescind a 36% cut in extramural funding for HIV research. The change of heart leaves intact last year's grants budget of about $10 million, which mostly comes from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) in Rome.

Last week's reversal came less than a month after Science reported--on the eve of the international AIDS meeting in Durban, South Africa--that authorities planned to gut the program (Science, 7 July, p. 28). "No sooner was the ink dry on the pages of Science," commented the Italian weekly magazine L'Espresso in its 3 August issue, than "as if by magic [health] minister Umberto Veronesi put everything back in place."

But Stefano Vella, director of the ISS's clinical research program and president of the International AIDS Society--which organized the Durban meeting--laments that the restored funds will come from within the agency's own budget rather than from additional government spending. "This is not a permanent solution, because it causes continuous conflict within the institute" between AIDS researchers and other scientists, Vella says. "It is a war among the poor for research money."

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Istituto Superiore di Sanità