AIDS United Commemorates National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Statement of Ronald Johnson, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- May 18, 2011 --  Observance of today's HIV/AIDS Vaccine Awareness Day provides an opportunity to heighten awareness of the need for a safe and effective HIV vaccine and an opportunity to honor the thousands of scientists, medical professionals, policy makers, advocates, and clinical trial participants who are working around the world to develop a safe and effective HIV vaccine.  This year’s HVAD comes on the approach of the 30th year since the first reported cases of the disease now known as AIDS.  In June, 1981, no one could imagine the devastation that would be wrought on millions of individuals and families and many thousands of communities.  HIV/AIDS has become one of the worst epidemics in recorded history.  Public health officials widely agree that stopping the spread of HIV infection and controlling the epidemic largely depends on the development and distribution of a safe and effective HIV vaccine.

The role of scientists and researchers is vital to the development of an HIV vaccine.  But theirs is not the only role.  The broader community also has an important role.  We need to educate ourselves on the value of vaccines and to be aware of and supportive of HIV vaccine research.  This especially includes supporting broad and diverse participation in the clinical trials that are essential to the development process.  HIV affects nearly all population groups.  An effective vaccine must be shown to work across a wide spectrum of people.  Here in the United States, it is critically important for people of color -- especially women and men who have sex with men -- to be aware of HIV vaccine research and consider opportunities to support such research, including volunteering to participate in a clinical trial.  There is renewed hope for the development of an HIV vaccine.  That hope will only be realized if all of us are involved.  AIDS United is committed to ending HIV/AIDS in America, which we will do by working for effective prevention interventions, linking people living with HIV/AIDS with the care they need and deserve, and supporting the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine.

To read AIDS United's Special Report: Finding an HIV Vaccine, click here