Fourth annual HIV vaccine awareness day honors volunteers, promotes research

"People are dying and to stand back and not do anything just doesnt sit well with me. I had to go as far as I could go. I hope more people will participate in HIV vaccine clinical trials and support those who do decide to volunteer If we talk about it each and every day, maybe it will have a ripple effect." -- an HIV vaccine study volunteer, Baltimore, MD

May 18 commemorates the Fourth Annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, which honors thousands of volunteers worldwide who have literally rolled up their sleeves to receive an experimental vaccine designed to prevent HIV infection in studies, many of them sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Communities around the nation will hold a variety of activities to raise awareness about preventive HIV vaccine trials, why a vaccine is the best hope for stopping the spread of HIV, and how ordinary people can be a part of the international effort to stem the pandemic.

"Volunteers are essential to our research progress toward a safe and effective HIV vaccine," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID director. "Since the first vaccine clinical trials in humans over a decade ago, more than 12,000 volunteers worldwide have stepped forward to participate in vaccine studies. As HIV continues to ravage our world communities, we take time on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day to thank those individuals who will one day be a part of medical history when an HIV vaccine becomes a reality."

Since 1987, NIAID has enrolled more than 3,600 HIV-negative, healthy volunteers in early phase trials intended to determine if candidate vaccines are safe and able to trigger an immune response. So far, volunteers have helped to evaluate 29 different vaccine candidates in NIAID-supported trials. Volunteer participation, combined with new knowledge about the virus and the human immune system, researchers say, has brought new optimism that a safe vaccine to prevent HIV infection can be developed.

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Contact: James Hadley
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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