"All of us are indebted to the individuals on the front lines of the effort
to find a safe and effective AIDS vaccine," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.,
director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID). "AIDS Vaccine Day honors those volunteers who play a vital role as
research partners. The rapid development of an AIDS vaccine remains a top
priority of the National Institutes of Health."
NIH will spend an estimated $194 million for AIDS vaccine research in Fiscal
Year 1999, which represents a 100 percent increase over four years ago.
May 18 marks the anniversary of President Bill Clinton's 1997 commencement
speech at Morgan State University in which he announced the establishment of
the Vaccine Research Center at NIH. Currently under construction, the
center is scheduled to open in the summer of 2000. The 50,000-square-foot,
$30 million building is a state-of-the-art research facility designed to
bring AIDS vaccines from concepts to clinical trials. Gary Nabel, M.D.,
Ph.D., director of the center, has already begun recruiting scientists and
charting the research course of the program.
Activities will be held throughout the United States. To commemorate the
President's speech, Morgan State University in Baltimore will host a one-day
conference co-sponsored by Johns Hopkins University's Center for
Immunization Research and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. The
conference will feature nationally known AIDS researchers, HIV prevention
experts and community leaders discussing the future of the AIDS vaccine
research and the impact a vaccine would have on traditional ideas of
preventing HIV/AIDS. An open forum will include panelists who have
volunteered in Phase I, II and III vaccine studies. Other speakers include:
Earl Richardson, Ed.D., president of Morgan State University; Rep. Elijah
Cummings (D.-Md.); Don Francis, M.D., president of VaxGen, Inc.; Helene
Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB
Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Margaret
Johnston, Ph.D., assistant director for HIV/AIDS Vaccines at NIAID.
In other areas of the country, state, city and local government officials
will join community groups in recognizing AIDS Vaccine Day. These officials
include the governor of Rhode Island and city mayors of Providence and
Pawtucket, and the mayors of Rochester, N.Y., and Seattle, Wash. Rep. Nancy
Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Daniel Montoya, executive director of the President's
Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, will attend a volunteer recognition reception
at a local restaurant for those in the vaccine study at the District of
Columbia General Hospital. Earlier that day, a volunteer will be vaccinated
as part of a brief ceremony at the hospital.
In an educational outreach effort, several sites, including New York
University Medical Center and the Fenway Community Health Center in Boston,
will distribute "palm cards" with information about AIDS Vaccine Day, HIV
preventive vaccines and volunteering for clinical trials. The New York
University Medical Center and the New York Blood Center will honor their
volunteers by participating in the AIDSWALK around Central Park. The Fenway
Community Health Center is also scheduled to present a media forum on the
state of HIV preventive vaccines. The University of Rochester Medical
Center will honor volunteers at the AIDS Remembrance Garden in Highland
Park. Other AIDS Vaccine Day activities range from a volunteer recognition
luncheon at the Johns Hopkins University site to a brunch for volunteers at
the Howard Brown Health Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Since 1987, more than 3,000 healthy volunteers have enrolled in 52 (50 Phase
I and 2 Phase II) NIAID-supported studies involving 27 vaccines. The trials
have been conducted at university-based sites in the AIDS Vaccine Evaluation
Group (AVEG), a network of clinical trials funded by NIAID to perform Phase
I and II AIDS vaccine trials, and the HIV Network for Prevention Trials
(HIVNET), a network of NIAID-funded clinical trials of promising HIV
prevention strategies, including vaccines, in both the United States and
An additional 6,000 volunteers have participated in NIAID-supported studies
preparing the groundwork for large-scale vaccine investigations and studies
of other prevention strategies, including topical microbicides and
behavioral interventions. These volunteers have made it possible for
researchers to learn how best to evaluate the safety and potential benefit
of experimental vaccines and other prevention strategies. They are also
helping scientists to better understand the concerns of prospective HIV
vaccine trial volunteers.
One Phase III study that is testing AIDSVAX, a bivalent gp120 vaccine
developed by VAXGEN, opened in the summer of 1998 and is expected to be
completed in 2001.
For information about events in specific areas, contact:
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID
conducts and supports research to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such
as HIV disease and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis,
malaria, asthma and allergies. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services.
Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID materials are available on the
NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.