AIDS Action observes HIV vaccine awareness day

Every nine and a half minutes someone in the United States is infected with HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 56,300 individuals became infected with HIV in 2006 alone.

There are over 1.1-million people living with the virus in the United States.

AIDS is a disease that impacts minority and poor communities disproportionately: African-Americans are seven times more likely to contract HIV, while the rate of infection among Hispanics is three-times that of whites.

Amidst this tragic reality, the ongoing search for an HIV vaccine gives us reason to hope.

The HIV vaccine research field continues to advance, and 2009 marks a year of promise. Today, on May 18th, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, AIDS Action urges everyone to help end the AIDS epidemic by supporting HIV vaccine research. We also thank the numerous volunteers, community educators, scientists, and advocates for their efforts to HIV vaccine research.

The best long-term hope for controlling the AIDS epidemic here and abroad is the development of safe, effective and affordable HIV vaccines. Historically, vaccines have been the most powerful weapon against diseases like polio, measles and Hepatitis B. In fact, no major viral epidemic has been defeated without one. HIV vaccine research is part of a robust HIV prevention research agenda and integral to a sustainable comprehensive response to the epidemic.

While researchers have not yet found a vaccine, there are reasons to be hopeful. Several large-scale efficacy trials in humans have already been completed. While their results did not yield an effective vaccine, they prompted innovative researchers to focus on basic science, leading to greater insight into human immunology. Using the lessons of the past, scientists are currently designing better clinical trials. And, there are promising candidates in the HIV vaccine pipeline. Results in the largest vaccine trial of 16,000 study participants in Thailand are expected in late 2009. There are several other candidates in clinical trials, and a new trial in the United States will soon begin. In this past year alone, six novel approaches being tested in monkeys have shown unprecedentedly positive initial findings. AIDS Action believes the horizon is bright.

This HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, we must remind ourselves that a life-saving HIV vaccine is possible. To be sure, it will require our best scientific minds. It will also rely on commitment from our political leaders and global investment, as well as support from ordinary citizens. AIDS Action is committed to advocating for continued political commitment and optimizing the environment for HIV vaccine research through education and awareness building. Through its membership network of AIDS service organizations, health departments, health educators, and community-based organizations across the country, AIDS Action is working to establish leadership and increase HIV vaccine awareness among key influencers and community and national leaders.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your help. Stay informed. Learn about HIV vaccine research efforts, talk about HIV vaccine research with your family and friends, support a trial volunteer, or contact your local trial site to become a volunteer or join a community advisory board. We encourage everyone to become involved in HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

Source: AIDS Action, USA



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