NIH to Mark 10th Annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
May 18th will mark the 10th annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. It's an opportunity to reflect on the more than two decades of progress worldwide in the search for a safe and effective HIV vaccine.
Schmalfeldt: May 18th will mark the 10th annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. It's an opportunity to reflect on the more than two decades of progress worldwide in the search for a safe and effective HIV vaccine. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases initiated the first HIV vaccine clinical trial in 1987. Since then, the NIAID has worked with its partners to conduct a variety of vaccine clinical trials that have enrolled more than 26-thousand volunteers. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the NIAID, commented on the importance of setting one day aside each year to focus on HIV Vaccine Awareness.
Fauci: First of all, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is important for a number of reasons. First is to make people aware of the importance of vaccines in the broad approach towards the prevention of HIV. There will be no single modality that will be absolutely preventive of HIV infection, particularly in situations where there is risk behavior going on or in situations in which people aren't even aware that they are practicing risk behavior. There are so many modalities of prevention. Vaccine is key among them. So, the first objective is to get people to be aware that we have still not reached the point where we need to be in our comprehensive approach towards the prevention of HIV infection. The other importance of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is to get people aware that they can contribute by participating as normal volunteers in any of a number of vaccine trials that will be rolling out over the next several years. We have had enormous success over the years, not only in HIV research, but in research in any discipline, in the careful and safe use of people who volunteer for clinical programs so that knowledge may be gained that might be helpful later on. So we're telling the public, "pay attention to what's going on, this is a very important component of the HIV infection prevention comprehensive plan. And if you see fit, if you have the opportunity, you should consider participating in a trial."
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Fauci said another reason for observing HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is to point out the importance of healthy volunteers in the search for safe and effective HIV vaccines.
Fauci: Well, first I would explain to them how important this is to global health. So if individuals want to make a contribution to the broad global health of which HIV infection is a major negative component of that — if you look at the global diseases that are killing so many people. There's HIV, there's malaria, there's tuberculosis, there's neglected tropical diseases. And then there's many of the diseases that we, ourselves, see — for example, among children in this country. So there are so many diseases for which we still have not gotten the final answer. So if an individual says, "I want to make a contribution to global health society. I want to feel that I have done something that is a contribution," why not consider taking part in a vaccine trial for HIV?
Schmalfeldt: The NIAID works closely with several organizations in the fight against AIDS. These organizations include the NIAID HIV Vaccine Trials Network, the US Military HIV Research Program, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Agency for International Development, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other groups within and outside the United States. In addition, Dr. Fauci said local communities play a key role in HIV vaccine research.
Fauci: Well, sure, because we know that whenever we get action on things like clinical trials, it's the mobilizations in the local community — community leaders, community people who want to contribute to society, they're the ones that mobilize these drives to get people on studies. So it is so much better to get buy-in from the community level. You get a degree of credibility, you get people who understand what they're doing. They get well-educated into what they're getting themselves into because they're hearing it from people they trust — their community leaders.
Schmalfeldt: Developing an effective vaccine depends on collaboration among academic, private sector and government researchers, non-government organizations, and thousands of volunteers who are committed to the fight against AIDS. For more information on how you can join the fight and be one of the generation that ends AIDS, visit www.BeTheGeneration.org. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Anthony S. Fauci