Statement of Margaret I. Johnston,
Ph.D., Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D.,
and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.,
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health, on,
HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, Friday, May 18, 2007
May 18, 2007 marks the 10th annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day,
an opportunity to reflect upon the more than two decades of progress
worldwide in the search for a safe and effective HIV vaccine. Today,
many challenges remain, but we look forward with optimism as the
HIV vaccine candidates in clinical trials today are among the most
promising we have seen.
These clinical trials, as well as efforts to design the next generation
of candidate vaccines, are essential to developing a safe and effective
vaccine to help eradicate the modern-day plague of HIV/AIDS. The
urgency of finding a safe and effective HIV vaccine is underscored
by sobering statistics: Forty million people are currently living
with HIV infection. Every day, another 11,000 individuals become
infected with HIV, most of whom live in resource-poor countries.
Last year alone, it is estimated that more than 40,000 individuals
in the United States were infected with HIV. In this country, available
data indicate that approximately two-thirds of new HIV diagnoses
occur among African Americans and Hispanics, and more than one-quarter
of new HIV diagnoses are in women.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
of the National Institutes of Health initiated the first HIV vaccine
trial in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1987. Since then, the Institute
has worked with its partners to conduct a variety of vaccine clinical
trials that have enrolled more than 26,000 volunteers. In the coming
years, several major trials testing different vaccine candidates
and approaches will be completed. Results of two ongoing efficacy
trials — a large-scale 16,000-person trial in Thailand and
a smaller 3,000-person trial in North America, South America, the
Caribbean and Australia — are expected in the next two years.
Results of another 3,000-person trial in South Africa will follow.
Later this year, we hope to launch an 8,500-person trial in the
United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Although none of these trials is expected to lead immediately to
a licensed vaccine, each study adds to the body of knowledge that
helps shape future vaccine efforts.
Developing an effective vaccine depends upon collaboration among
academic, private sector and government researchers, non-governmental
organizations, and thousands of volunteers who are committed to
the fight against AIDS. NIAID works closely with such organizations
as the NIAID HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), the U.S. Military
HIV Research Program, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy
Coalition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others within
and outside the United States.
Local communities play a key role in HIV vaccine research. NIAID
and the HVTN partner with community-based organizations in areas
where clinical trials are under way or planned, to educate their
communities about HIV vaccine development and help dispel myths
about HIV vaccine research.
Today, we urge all Americans to show support for HIV vaccine research.
You can take action by simply learning more about HIV vaccine research,
by participating in community events being held across the United
States, or by volunteering in a HIV vaccine clinical trial.
On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, we also express our sincere gratitude
to the thousands of volunteers, community members, health professionals
and scientists involved in HIV vaccine research. Only through their
collective and continued participation will an HIV vaccine become
a reality. A vaccine is our best hope for controlling and eventually
ending the AIDS pandemic in the United States and around the world.
For more information about local HIV Vaccine Awareness Day events,
the “Be The Generation” HIV vaccine education initiative or HIV
vaccine research, visit http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/events/HVAD/ and http://www.bethegeneration.org,
or call 1-800-HIV-0440 (bilingual English/Spanish).
Margaret I. Johnston, Ph.D., is director of the Vaccine Research
Program, Division of AIDS, NIAID. Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D.,
is director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center,
NIAID. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is director of the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID
supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat
infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted
infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential
agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on basic immunology,
transplantation and immune-related disorders, including autoimmune
diseases, asthma and allergies. Media inquiries can be directed
to the NIAID News and Public Information Branch at 301-402-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.