May 18, 2004
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:
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.