May 16, 2002
"HIV vaccine research is our best hope, along with other prevention efforts, to slow the spread of HIV," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "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."
Increased federal funding has expanded the HIV vaccine pipeline by allowing for more exploration of various vaccine strategies. During the past 5 years, 6 potential HIV vaccines were tested in 12 small-scale clinical trials conducted both here and around the world. Over the next 2 years, more than a dozen potential vaccines are expected to be ready for testing requiring more than 20 clinical trials of various sizes. This investment in vaccine research has made the discovery of an effective HIV vaccine more possible today than ever before.
"The public needs to understand that AIDS is not under control," 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. We definitely need public support and particularly the cooperation of volunteers in our clinical research if we are going to achieve that goal."
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 with the support of its 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.
"These trials will lead to a vaccine, perhaps not in a year or two or even three years, but we will get there," says Dr. Fauci. "When we do, we will have the ability to significantly control the spread of HIV in the same way we have succeeded against smallpox, polio and measles. Without these trials, and the support of thousands of volunteers who will participate, HIV will continue to devastate communities throughout the United States and the world."
Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center in NIAID (http://www.niaid.nih.gov/vrc/), hopes HIV Vaccine Awareness Day will prompt the public to "learn more about HIV vaccine research -- the steps it has taken to get where we are today and the promise of tomorrow." He says, "The challenge is to turn HIV/AIDS into a disease of the past."
Every day, an estimated 14,000 people worldwide become infected with HIV, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. More than half of new infections occur in young people under age 25. Approximately 8 percent of the 37.2 million adults living with HIV/AIDS worldwide are women, while 2.7 million of the world's children younger than 15 years old live with the disease.
HIV Vaccine Awareness Day activities will be held throughout the United States and at several international sites. This year's events emphasize education and outreach by the research sites, include media events, tours of research facilities, lectures and receptions to honor volunteers. For specific information about events in specific areas, contact:
Johns Hopkins University
Theron Scott: (410) 614-6619
University of Maryland, Baltimore
Sandra Wearins: (410) 706-1290
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Leslie Cooper: (205) 975-2839
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Fenway Community Health
Angela Wilcox: (617) 927-6352
Durban, South Africa
Medical Research Center
Pumi Yeni: 27-31-203-4828
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 sites
Denise Goodman: (212) 388-0008
Dr. Mireille Peck: 509-222-00-31
Stephanie Howie: (401) 793-4714
University of Rochester
Patrick Fisher: (585) 275-0459
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Department of Public Health
Meredith Broome: (415) 554-9078
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington
Dennis Torres: (206) 521-5812
St. Louis, MO
Saint Louis University
Tim Lynch: (314) 268-5448
Johns Hopkins University
Theron Scott: (410) 614-6619
More information on HIV Vaccine Research and HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is available at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/hivvaccines, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network at http://www.hvtn.org and the NIAID Vaccine Research Center at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/vrc/.
TV Media: Video news release and B-roll available with sound bites from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID director; Dr. Peggy I. Johnston, associate director for HIV/AIDS vaccines, NIAID; Dr. Gary J. Nabel, director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center, NIAID; Dr. Chad Womack, researcher, VRC, NIAID; and Sandra Wearins, vaccine trial volunteer. Also included are laboratory shots and exterior views of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center. A Spanish version of the VNR features Dr. Jorge Flores, chief of Vaccine Clinical Research Branch in NIAID's Division of AIDS. For information on a satellite feed, call 1-800-920-6397.
Radio Broadcasters: Sound bites are available by calling the NIH Radio News Service at 1-800-MED DIAL (1-800-633-3425).