Sixth Annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day Aims To Thank Researchers, Volunteers Involved in Search for HIV Vaccine
Yesterday marked the sixth annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, which aimed to thank scientists and volunteers involved in HIV vaccine research for their efforts and recognize the progress that has been made toward this goal, according to a National Minority AIDS Council release (NMAC release, 5/12). The theme of the day was "Turning Vision into Vaccines" (AIDSinfo.nih.gov release, 5/12). "HIV vaccine research is our best hope, along with other prevention and treatment efforts, to slow the spread of HIV," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, adding, "NIAID is committed to educating the public to help correct misconceptions and advance public understanding of ongoing and future HIV vaccine research" (NIAID release, 5/15). HHS, NIH and NIAID plan to run ads that ask people throughout the United States to wear a red AIDS ribbon upside down. The upside down ribbon forms a "V," showing the wearer's support for vaccine research and a vision of a world without AIDS (NMAC release, 5/12).
Many Americans Think HIV Vaccine Already Exists
About 20% of adults in the United States believe that a preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS has already been developed but is being kept secret, according to preliminary results of a NIAID survey. The survey, which was administered to a total of 3,500 people, including a 2,000-person national survey of U.S. adults and three smaller surveys of communities most affected by HIV/AIDS, found that 48% of African Americans and 28% of Hispanics believe that an HIV vaccine already exists but is being kept secret. The survey also found additional "troubling misperceptions" about HIV/AIDS vaccine development, including that 42% of those surveyed did not understand that vaccine development requires testing potential vaccines on thousands of humans before approval and almost 33% surveyed believe that HIV/AIDS vaccines can cause HIV infection. However, the survey found that 84% of U.S. adults believe that efforts to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS infection are "extremely" or "very" important compared to other medical research needs. Ninety-six percent of African Americans and 94% of Hispanics said that efforts to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS infection are "extremely" or "very" important (NIAID release, 5/15).