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Keeping Hope Alive

HIV Vaccines and the Community

December 2004

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Keeping Hope Alive: HIV Vaccines and the Community
HIV vaccine trials are in many ways defined by the relationship between science and the community. Together they both dream of the day that AIDS is no longer a global pandemic, when we are no longer losing relatives, partners, or friends. The community includes research volunteers, supporters of research, community advisors, and others who collectively provide the voice of hope for HIV vaccines.

Communicating the basic concepts around HIV vaccine development involves understanding some simple ideas:

  • An HIV vaccine is a substance that, when introduced to the body, "teaches" the immune system to recognize and defend against HIV.

  • One of the biggest myths is that an HIV vaccine already exists. There is no company approved or licensed to sell HIV vaccine. Today, we only have research studies to test promising HIV vaccines. Hopefully, over the next few years we will have a marketable vaccine.

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  • HIV vaccines do not transmit HIV and you cannot become infected with HIV from volunteering in an HIV vaccine study.

  • Being an HIV vaccine volunteer does not make you protected from HIV. We encourage and offer resources to all volunteers to help them engage in safer behaviors.

  • Volunteers for HIV vaccine trials must be HIV-negative, generally healthy, and 18 to 50 years old.

  • All volunteers provide informed consent, meaning they must fully understand what they are participating in, that their participation is their own "free choice," and that they may end their participation at any time. In addition, there are many controls in place to make sure the research is being conducted appropriately. One of those controls is our Community Advisory Board, whose voice in reviewing studies is invaluable.

  • HIV vaccine volunteers receive detailed risk-reduction counseling and are informed of all study milestones.

  • An HIV vaccine may also be beneficial for HIV-infected individuals by helping delay the onset of AIDS or slowing disease progression. These types of HIV vaccines are called therapeutic vaccines and research is also being conducted at various sites.

  • HIV vaccine studies are being conducted around the world. In NYC, we are located in Union Square, Washington Heights, and the Bronx. You can reach any of our three sites by calling for free 1-877-NYC-HVTU or reviewing or website at www.nychvtu.org.

Michele Montecalvo, M.S., C.H.E.S. is Recruitment Coordinator for the NYC HIV Vaccine Trials Unit, a partnership of Columbia University and Project ACHIEVE.


A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.
 
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