Out of 128 national and local community-based organizations, and through a highly competitive selection process, Brother-to-Brother was chosen as one of only 20 groups nationwide to receive funding to educate hard-to-reach populations about HIV vaccine research. "There's a lot of misunderstanding about HIV vaccine research among large parts of the American population," said Derrick Myricks-Harris, Executive Director of Brother-to-Brother. "We will use this funding to provide factual and scientific information in Seattle's black community, and correct misinformation around the existing movements in HIV vaccine research."
Funding for this effort was made available through Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, a subcontractor for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Each funded organization will receive the training and tools needed to make HIV vaccine research awareness and education part of its continuing efforts against HIV/AIDS.
According to NIAID, 48 percent of African-Americans and 28 percent of Hispanics surveyed wrongly believe that an HIV vaccine already exists -- and is being kept secret. This belief is shared by 20 percent of the general adult population. This could affect how people view the importance of HIV prevention and whether they adopt protective behaviors, and we need to make sure people understand that there is presently no vaccine to prevent HIV infection or AIDS.
Amongst many other activities, Brother-to-Brother will use the funding to:
- Convene and train a black community advisory group.
- Create a media campaign to provide scientific and factual HIV preventive vaccine information.
- Create and host an HIV vaccine awareness component to the Brother-to-Brother Web site, at www.brotobro.com.
- Train 15 Down Low Barbershop Project barbers.
- Integrate HIV vaccine awareness into other ongoing HIV prevention, intervention and education efforts.
Funds will also help Brother-to-Brother take part in the annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, on May 18, 2004. This year's observance, called "Real People. Real Progress," acknowledges the thousands of volunteers, scientists and health professionals working to find a safe and effective vaccine to prevent HIV.
Leonard Dawson, Brother-to-Brother Co-Executive Director said, "This isn't about recruiting volunteers for clinical trials. The funding for this program will let us get more deeply involved in educating people about the realities of HIV vaccine research, especially in the black community. It will also help us continue our work to dispel myths about HIV/AIDS, and people living with HIV/AIDS."
Interestingly, despite the widespread belief in a "secret" vaccine, 96 percent of African-American survey respondents rated HIV vaccine research to be "extremely" or "very" important. "When you have survey results that contradict one another so strongly, belief in a 'secret' vaccine matched with strong support for continuing research -- it just underscores how much work has to be done with the public," Leonard concluded.
If you would like to volunteer for this effort, and/or become a member of the Community Advisory Group, please contact: Derrick Myricks-Harris, or Leonard Dawson Jr., Phone Number: (206) 726-1600, E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.