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HMRC internal manual

Corporate Intangibles Research and Development Manual

VRR: specified diseases: HIV/AIDS


Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome was first recognised and described in 1983, in theUSA, since when it has been found throughout the globe. It is caused by infection from theHuman Immuno-Deficiency Virus, which is passed in bodily fluids from an infected person tosomeone else. This is most commonly from sexual contact, but less often from the sharingof contaminated needles by drug addicts, or from transfusions of infected blood. In 2002,an estimated 40 million people were infected; 3 million die each year and 5 million arenewly infected; 70% of the cases are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Since it was recognised in humans, having perhaps crossed the species barrier fromchimpanzees who suffer from a similar disease SIV, it has evolved and divided into anumber of phylo-genetic types or ‘clades’ which predominate in different partsof the world. The scientific community generally accepts the following classifications in2002:

Clade A - prevalent in East and Central Africa.

Clade B - prevalent in USA, Europe and Australia.

Clade C - prevalent in South Africa, China, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines.

Clade D - prevalent in East and Central Africa.

Clade E - prevalent in Thailand.

After infection, the virus may remain in the bloodstream for many years before presentingsymptoms. However, if the viral load multiplies beyond a critical figure, the patientbecomes ill, and as the virus progressively destroys the immune system, suffers from arange of diseases to which he or she has little resistance and which ultimately provefatal.

After infection, the only treatment currently available is anti retroviral medicines,often taken in combination, which can reduce the viral load to less damaging levels, butwhich cannot cure the disease. There is currently no prophylactic treatment on the market,though several potential vaccines are in development.

R&D activity will only qualify for relief if it is directed towards:

  • vaccine for the prevention of infection by HIV, or
  • vaccine or medicines for the prevention of the onset, or the treatment, of AIDS resulting from infection by HIV in Clades A,C,D or E only.

Note that, whilst vaccines will normally be clade specific, there is no restriction tothe relief by reference to the clades in the case of prophylactic vaccines.Anti-retroviral medicines are not clade specific, and so research or development aimed atthese will not qualify for relief.

The Treasury has powers by Regulation to vary the prescribed clades, and to make provisionfurther defining the qualifying R&D activity. These powers are necessary because(particularly) the HIV virus continues to mutate. However the number of specified diseasescannot be increased by Regulations.