Seventh Annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day Emphasizes Need for Vaccine, Appreciation for Vaccine Trial Participants
Tuesday marks the seventh annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, which aims to "emphasiz[e] how today's science may produce tomorrow's ultimate weapon against AIDS," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Guthrie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/16). HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, with the theme "Real People, Real Progress," is aimed at educating people about the "urgent need for preventive HIV vaccines" and to show appreciation for participants in HIV vaccine trials for "their selfless dedication to ending the HIV pandemic," according to an NIH release (NIH release, 5/11). International AIDS Vaccine Initiative President and CEO Seth Berkley said in a statement, "We must develop a vaccine to end this global pandemic. Vaccines stop epidemics -- polio, smallpox and two dozen other diseases have been eradicated or controlled thanks to vaccines" (IAVI release, 5/18). National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said that the day will be commemorated by people wearing the red AIDS awareness ribbon upside-down to symbolize the letter V -- "for vaccines and the vision of a world without AIDS." He added, "Ultimately, this vision is our best hope for all. And it is in this spirit of hope that I join with those in the United States and the world in commemorating and honoring this valiant effort." Fauci also said that "one fact remains resolutely and absolutely clear: when we find a vaccine we will want to be able to show that it works for everyone regardless of their race, ethnicity or gender. To accomplish this, all communities must be involved in the search for a vaccine. Future trials will require more individuals to volunteer than ever before, and those individuals must be representative of the most affected communities" (NIH release, 5/11).
AVAC Annual Report
The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition on Monday released its annual report on the state of vaccine research and development worldwide, according to an AVAC release. According to the report, titled "AIDS Vaccine Trials - Getting the Global House in Order," the AIDS vaccine field is moving a "large number" of experimental AIDS vaccines into human clinical trials around the world, but the progress of research could be hampered by a possible shortage of healthy volunteers who are willing to participate in the trials, according to the release. "After years of delay, the field is finally moving new vaccine candidates into human testing," AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren, adding, "But if we don't significantly step up the pace of recruiting trial volunteers and developing new trial sites, we will never learn whether the new generation of AIDS vaccine candidates has promise." The report provides a "checklist" of detailed, quantifiable goals that HIV vaccine researchers, trial sponsors and advocates can use to determine whether they are prepared to conduct the multiple vaccine trials that will be necessary in the future, according to the release. AVAC says that 13 new HIV/AIDS vaccine candidates have entered human clinical trials over the past year, and the group expects additional vaccine candidates to move into large-scale trials in the next several years. "Despite the long road ahead, this is really a very exciting time," Warren, who was named AVAC executive director last month, said (AVAC release, 5/17).
Advocacy Groups Respond
Several HIV/AIDS advocacy groups around the world will hold events to mark the day, including:
Black AIDS Institute: BAI is scheduled to hold an HIV Vaccine Community Forum on Tuesday in conjunction with AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Minority AIDS Project and other Los Angeles-based partners (HVAD activities, 5/17). Other partners include the AIDS Research Alliance of America, the Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center, the Research & Education Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education. The forum is expected to include presentations by BAI Executive Director Phill Wilson, UCLA vaccine researcher Dr. Kathie Ferbas and representatives from the Los Angles County Department of Health Services (APLA release, 5/12).
Latino Commission on AIDS: The New York City commission on Tuesday is expected to announce the establishment of the National Latino Leadership Forum for HIV Vaccine Development.
National Medical Association: NMA will facilitate activities through 130 affiliates and issue a press release from Magic Johnson -- the former NBA star who is HIV-positive -- and the Magic Johnson Foundation. The groups are currently working with Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams (D) on a special proclamation.
AID Atlanta: Along with the Emory University Vaccine Research Center Hope Clinic and SisterLove, AID Atlanta has scheduled for Tuesday a panel discussion following a screening of Rory Kennedy's documentary film "Pandemic: Facing AIDS." Dr. Harold Jaffe, director of CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, is scheduled to speak at the event.
AIDS Foundation of Chicago: The group is scheduled to hold a briefing, titled "HIV Vaccine Research in Chicago: Where we are, Where we are going" (HVAD activities, 5/17).
- Canadian HIV Vaccines Plan: Canada has begun to develop an HIV Vaccines Plan, which includes both Canadian and international contributions to the development of an HIV vaccine. The plan, which is the first of its kind worldwide, is supported by Canadian researchers, coalitions of community-based organizations -- including the Canadian AIDS Society, the Canadian Association for HIV Research, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Canadian Network for Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, the Canadian Treatment Action Council and the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development -- government agencies and international partners (Joint release, 5/18).
- South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative: SAAVI partner organizations are scheduled to hold events throughout the day in Cape Town, Durban, Soweto and Orkney, South Africa, where vaccine clinical trials are ongoing (SAAVI release, 5/18).
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