Closer to AIDS Vaccine?
September 5, 2001
Today, many researchers, public health experts, drug company representatives and health ministers from hard-hit nations will meet in Philadelphia for AIDS Vaccine 2001. The conference is the first in a series of meetings designed to speed AIDS vaccines into large-scale trials.Adapted from:
Nearly 20 prototypes of AIDS vaccines are in the pipeline, with more on the way. The push to find an effective AIDS vaccine is gaining momentum, flush with projects funded by government, biotech firms, non-profit organizations and the pharmaceutical industry. Although most of the prototypes are in the earliest stages of testing, many researchers are confident they can eventually beat HIV.
"We have reached a new level of acceleration, not only in what we're doing but in the promise of what can be done," says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Even a divided Congress recognizes the importance of an AIDS vaccine, as Fauci will note in his opening address at the conference. Next year, lawmakers will supply $357 million for AIDS vaccine research, an increase of 27 percent over this year.
The real heroes of the struggle for a vaccine may be the volunteers in the early trials of an experimental vaccine. "I always think of a hero as an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances who does what needs to be done," says Mary Allen, a nurse and community liaison for the NIAID. "They're taking the first bold step of being vaccinated with something that has never been given to humans before."
Although none of the experimental vaccines carry live HIV, volunteers do have to contend with unique risks. Some experimental vaccines cause volunteers to test positive on HIV tests. In fact, NIAID gives volunteers a photo ID with a toll-free number in case an insurance company or employer learns of a positive HIV test. NIAID then resolves the conflict expeditiously. Volunteers have to deal with the stigma of AIDS, as well as side effects of the various experimental vaccines.
09.05.01; Steve Sternberg
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.