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AIDS Action Urges Everyone to Help End the AIDS Epidemic by Being Part of the Search for an HIV Vaccine
Date:5/16/2008

ED Rebecca Haag's Statement for National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, May 18

WASHINGTON, May 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Twenty-six years into the AIDS epidemic, someone is newly infected with HIV every 13 minutes in the U.S. On Sunday, May 18, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, AIDS Action, one of five national partners in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) HIV Vaccine Research Education Initiative, urges everyone to help end the AIDS epidemic by participating in the search for an HIV Vaccine. We also thank the numerous volunteers, community educators, scientists and advocates for their efforts to further HIV vaccine research.

AIDS Action's support for continued and increased investment in HIV vaccine research is unwavering. Basic HIV vaccine research must remain one of the many prevention strategies being pursued at a national level. We will continue to advocate for HIV vaccine research here in Washington, DC and raise awareness of and support for HIV vaccine research across the country.

The best long-term hope for controlling the AIDS epidemic is the development of safe, effective and affordable HIV vaccines. Historically, vaccines have been the most powerful weapon against diseases like polio, measles and Hepatitis B. In fact, no major viral epidemic has been defeated without one.

Vaccine research is a difficult, complicated and iterative process that takes many years. It took 47 years to develop a vaccine for polio, and 42 for measles. This past September, the phase II Merck Step Trial was halted due to ineffectiveness, raising a storm of scientific and media inquiry. While the results were disappointing, the Step trial itself and its safety mechanisms were successfully implemented. The failure of one vaccine candidate does not signify the failure of all HIV vaccine research. This setback, as have others, may be a stepping stone to future success.

AIDS Action is committed to increase awareness of the need for an HIV vaccine, improve the public's knowledge of vaccine research and create support for current and future HIV vaccine trials. We must focus on increasing awareness among African Americans, Latinos, women and men who have sex with men. The epidemic is taking an increasingly devastating toll on these disproportionately affected populations, yet African Americans, Latinos, women, and men who have sex with men are largely underrepresented in HIV vaccine research clinical trials. A large HIV vaccine trial will require thousands of participants of all races/ethnicities, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds to ensure that the vaccine works in all populations. Therefore, community support is essential in efforts to break down stigma and myths about HIV vaccine research.

As a National Partner, AIDS Action will work to establish leadership and support for HIV vaccine research and its clinical trials. Through its membership network of AIDS service organizations, health departments, health educators, and community-based organizations across the country, AIDS Action is perfectly poised to increase HIV vaccine awareness among key influencers and community and national leaders.

So, here is what you can do to help. Find information about HIV vaccine research efforts, Talk about HIV vaccine research with your family and friends, support a trial volunteer, or contact your local trial site to become a volunteer or joining a community advisory board. We encourage everyone to become involved in HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

Learn more about events in your area, how you can help, and the facts about HIV vaccine research at http://www.bethegeneration.org and http://www.aidsaction.org.


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SOURCE AIDS Action
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