Statement of Margaret I. Johnston, Ph.D., Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health
May 18, 2007, marks the 10th annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, an opportunity to reflect upon the more than two decades of progress worldwide in the search for a safe and effective HIV vaccine. Today, many challenges remain, but we look forward with optimism as the HIV vaccine candidates in clinical trials today are among the most promising we have seen.
These clinical trials, as well as efforts to design the next generation of candidate vaccines, are essential to developing a safe and effective vaccine to help eradicate the modern-day plague of HIV/AIDS. The urgency of finding a safe and effective HIV vaccine is underscored by sobering statistics: Forty million people are currently living with HIV infection. Every day, another 11,000 individuals become infected with HIV, most of whom live in resource-poor countries. Last year alone, it is estimated that more than 40,000 individuals in the United States were infected with HIV. In this country, available data indicate that approximately two-thirds of new HIV diagnoses occur among African Americans and Hispanics, and more than one-quarter of new HIV diagnoses are in women.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health initiated the first HIV vaccine trial in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1987. Since then, the Institute has worked with its partners to conduct a variety of vaccine clinical trials that have enrolled more than 26,000 volunteers. In the coming years, several major trials testing different vaccine candidates and approaches will be completed. Results of two ongoing efficacy trials—a large-scale 16,000-person trial in Thailand and a smaller 3,000-person trial in North America, South America, the Caribbean and Australia—are expected in the next two years. Results of another 3,000-person trial in South Africa will follow. Later this year, we hope to launch an 8,500-person trial in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa. Although none of these trials is expected to lead immediately to a licensed vaccine, each study adds to the body of knowledge that helps shape future vaccine efforts.
Developing an effective vaccine depends upon collaboration among academic, private sector and government researchers, non-governmental organizations, and thousands of volunteers who are committed to the fight against AIDS. NIAID works closely with such organizations as the NIAID HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others within and outside the United States.
Local communities play a key role in HIV vaccine research. NIAID and the HVTN partner with community-based organizations in areas where clinical trials are under way or planned, to educate their communities about HIV vaccine development and help dispel myths about HIV vaccine research.
Today, we urge all Americans to show support for HIV vaccine research. You can take action by simply learning more about HIV vaccine research, by participating in community events being held across the United States, or by volunteering in a HIV vaccine clinical trial.
On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, we also express our sincere gratitude to the thousands of volunteers, community members, health professionals and scientists involved in HIV vaccine research. Only through their collective and continued participation will an HIV vaccine become a reality. A vaccine is our best hope for controlling and eventually ending the AIDS pandemic in the United States and around the world.
For more information about local HIV Vaccine Awareness Day events, the “Be The Generation” HIV vaccine education initiative or HIV vaccine research, visit http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/events/HVAD/ and http://www.bethegeneration.org, or call 1-800-HIV-0440 (bilingual English/Spanish).
Visit NIH Radio to hear an interview with Dr. Fauci on "NIH to Mark 10th Annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day."
To learn more details about progress in the field of HIV vaccine research, read NIAID’s recent news release about a New England Journal of Medicine article on this topic authored by Drs. Fauci and Johnston.
Margaret I. Johnston, Ph.D., is director of the Vaccine Research Program, Division of AIDS, NIAID. Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center, NIAID. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
Media inquiries can be directed to the NIAID News Office at 301-402-1663, firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.