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May 18: HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

By Miguel Gomez

May 13, 2010

This article was cross-posted from the AIDS.gov blog. Miguel Gomez is the AIDS.gov director.

May 18, 2010 will mark HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD), an annual observance day that recognizes the thousands of volunteers, community leaders, health professionals, and scientists that work to develop a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) -- the Federal sponsor for HVAD -- hopes the day will encourage communities to learn more about HIV vaccine research and support those who are currently volunteering in clinical vaccination trials.

And there are many out there for us to support. Only a month ago today (April 13, 2010), the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Program, one of the leading programs in this effort, announced their 1000 volunteer. Kyle Rybczyk, the program's Clinic Coordinator, said it best in a press release at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, "Without the volunteers? the science doesn't happen."

So with May 18 less than a week away, I sat down and spoke with Cornelius Baker, the Project Director for the NIAID Vaccine Research Education Initiative to learn more about the misconceptions behind these trials and the importance of HVAD. Cornelius noted the wealth of vaccine trial information on the BeTheGeneration site. He told me about the work that partners like SisterLove, AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth, and Families, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation are doing to help inform and encourage communities to volunteer for vaccine programs and trials. You can find the video of our conversation with Cornelius Baker above.

Have you ever volunteered for an HIV vaccine clinical trial? What are some of the misconceptions you've heard about these trials in your community? We'd love to hear from you!

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