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Fauci rejected criticism from "naysayers" who argue that too much taxpayer money has been spent on the vaccine.
"If you can prevent infection, you are preventing the need for a lifetime of expensive drugs," he said, referring to antiretroviral therapy that can prolong people's lives many years. "If you look historically, vaccines have been the most cost-effective health interventions in history and continue to be so."
And he said it would be wrong to divert funding from vaccine research -- as some prominent scientists have argued -- into male circumcision which can reduce HIV transmission by up to 60 percent.
"We tend not to think of either or," he said.
Dramatic results from trials into male circumcision prompted the United Nations last year to recommend that government embrace it as part of their AIDS prevention armory. But African countries that are keen to embark on mass male circumcision complain they lack the resources and the medical expertise needed. Funding programs from international donors are still in their infancy.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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