May 15, 2003
The preliminary findings are from a national survey of 3,500 people conducted by NIAID, a component of the National Institutes of Health. The research included a 2,000-person national survey of American adults and three smaller surveys of communities most affected by HIV and AIDS (i.e., African American, Hispanics, and men who have sex with men).
As a part of NIAID's efforts to educate the public about ongoing research, the Institute is sponsoring the Sixth Annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day on May 18. Communities around the country and across the world have planned activities that will provide valuable HIV vaccine information to inform the public and begin to correct misinformation and misperceptions.
"HIV vaccine research is our best hope, along with other prevention and treatment efforts, to slow the spread of HIV," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "NIAID is committed to educating the public to help correct misconceptions and advance public understanding of ongoing and future HIV vaccine research."
The survey found significant support for HIV vaccine research. Eighty-four percent of the public believes that efforts to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV infection are "extremely" or "very" important compared with other medical research needs. Support for HIV vaccine research is even stronger among African-American and Hispanic respondents: 96 six percent of African Americans and 94 percent of Hispanics surveyed believe HIV vaccine research to be "extremely" or "very" important.
Despite that support, the survey indicated some additional, troubling misperceptions about efforts to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. For example,
These misperceptions and the lack of substantive knowledge about HIV vaccine research underscore the ongoing need to educate the public about efforts underway to develop a vaccine that prevents HIV infection.
Every day, an estimated 16,000 people worldwide become infected with HIV, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Approximately 50 percent of the 38.6 million adults living with HIV/AIDS worldwide are women, while 3.2 million are children younger than 15 years old.
In the United States, an estimated 900,000 people are living with HIV. New infections occur at a rate of 40,000 a year; more than half of those new infections occur in people of color. Young people under the age of 25 account for half of all new HIV infections in the United States.
Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center in NIAID (www.niaid.nih.gov/vrc), says, "HIV Vaccine Awareness Day provides the public with an opportunity to learn more about HIV vaccine research. Only through research will we be able to meet our ultimate goal and make HIV/AIDS a disease of the past."
"May 18th provides us with an opportunity to recognize the researchers, community educators and thousands of volunteers around the world who have been involved in the quest for an HIV vaccine," says Margaret (Peggy) I. Johnston, Ph.D., associate director for HIV/AIDS vaccines, NIAID. "HIV continues to spread unabated in many parts of the world. What we need is to stop that spread, and the best hope to do that is through a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine."
More than 60 medical research centers around the country have recruited thousands of volunteers to test dozens of potential vaccines. NIAID is currently sponsoring multiple clinical trials of HIV vaccine candidates through the global HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). These vaccine trials will one day require tens of thousands of additional volunteers. Currently, more than 12,000 men and women worldwide have come forward as volunteers for HIV vaccine research.
Johns Hopkins University
Theron Scott: (410) 614-6619
University of Maryland, Baltimore
Sandra Wearins: (410) 706-1290
NIAID Vaccine Research Center
Nancy Barrett: (301) 435-3676
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Leslie Cooper: (205) 975-2839
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Fenway Community Health
Darren LeBlanc: (617) 927-6026
Durban, South Africa
Medical Research Center
Nobuhle Mkhize: 27-31-203-4700
Princess Marina Hospital
Rupert Hambria: (267) 393-1137
Susan Montgomery: (615) 322-0873
New York, NY
Project Achieve/New York Blood Center and Columbia University
Denise Goodman: (212) 388-0008
Dr. Mireille Peck: 509-222-00-31
Stephanie Howie: (401) 793-4714
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Hospital Escola Sao Francisco de Assis
Monica Barbosa: 55-21-2273-9073
University of Rochester
Patrick Fisher: (585) 275-0459
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Department of Public Health
Jennifer Sarche: (415) 554-4297
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington
Dennis Torres: (206) 521-5812
Soweto, South Africa
Perinatal HIV Research Unit
Dr. Glenda Gray: 217-11-989-9703
St. Louis, MO
Saint Louis University
Kim Dao: (314) 268-5448
Radio Broadcasters: Soundbites are available by calling the NIH Radio News Service at 1-800-MED DIAL (1-800-633-3425).