May 12, 2006

Day to recognize HIV vaccine advances

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Day to recognize HIV vaccine advances

If you see people wearing the familiar red AIDS ribbon upside down on Thursday, May 18, ask them about it.

They're celebrating the ninth annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, a national observance to recognize and thank thousands of volunteers, health professionals and researchers who are working together to find a safe and effective vaccine against the AIDS virus.

The upside-down ribbon symbolizes a “V” for vaccines and a vision of a world without AIDS.

Vanderbilt is celebrating the approximately 800 volunteers who have participated in HIV vaccine trials, said Josh Barnes, community educator and Community Advisory Board liaison for the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Research Program.

Currently, more than 20 vaccine candidates are being tested worldwide through the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Ten of them are being tested at Vanderbilt, Barnes said.

Two candidate vaccines have progressed to the second of three stages of clinical trials, meaning they are being tested for safety and efficacy in large groups of volunteers. One of these vaccines is being tested at Vanderbilt.

“Together, as a community, we can all contribute to advancing the search for an effective HIV vaccine by openly supporting the everyday people and scientists who are involved in HIV vaccine research,” Barnes continued.

“Everyone, including at-risk populations such as women and communities of color, needs to learn more about HIV vaccine research, support those involved with the research and consider being part of the generation that makes an HIV vaccine a reality.”

For more information about the studies at Vanderbilt, to volunteer for a study or to find out how you can join local community activities supporting HIV vaccine research, call 322-HOPE or e-mail