Recently I talked with Kathy Stover from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) -- the lead organizer for HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD) - May 18. As HVAD approaches, I wanted to learn more about HIV vaccine research and HVAD.
I learned that in 2009, the U.S. is still engaged in a steady effort to find a safe and effective vaccine to prevent HIV. This work is a key focus of the comprehensive HIV prevention research that will help reduce the impact of the epidemic.
Kathy told me that HVAD is a day in which all of us can, and should, thank the thousands of volunteers, researchers, and community members in many cities across the country who participate in HIV vaccine clinical trials.
HVAD reminds us that HIV is still a major health problem in the U.S. and worldwide. Despite disappointing HIV vaccine study results of the past, it's important to remember that each clinical trial provides important scientific information that brings us closer to an effective HIV vaccine. Learning more about HIV vaccine research and getting involved are key ways each of us can help fight the complacency that was highlighted in the Kaiser Family Foundation 2009 Survey of Americans on HIV/AIDS: Findings on the Domestic Epidemic.
Several websites have information about what is going on in HIV vaccine research:
- NIAID is the leading federal agency working on HIV vaccine research. Look for background information on the institute’s vaccine work and a statement from NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., in recognition of HVAD 2009.
- The NIAID-funded HIV Vaccine Research Education Initiative “Be the Generation” site has a locator for identifying the nearest local vaccine research trial and a quiz on your knowledge of vaccine research.
- On the site, I watched several personal stories from people who work in the area of HIV vaccine research. Kathy told me these videos exemplify how new media tools can be used to reflect and expand community engagement in this aspect of our collective response to the epidemic.
As we approach May 18 - the 12th observance of HVAD - I urge you to please learn about the important HIV vaccine research work in progress. If you are HIV-negative, consider participating in an HIV vaccine clinical trial. Make HVAD your opportunity to support the continuing work to find a safe and effective vaccine against HIV. Please post a comment to tell me what you did to observe HVAD this year.