HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Dr. Larry Corey

Principal Investigator, HVTN

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HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 2015 marks an important milestone in our field with an unprecedented return of energy and optimism.  Several studies evaluating new vaccine regimens are being initiated in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as parts of the US and South America.  The long awaited P5 program has begun, as has the program involving Johnson and Johnson laboratory, Janssen.  There is both enthusiasm and optimism that the milestones for advancement of these new vaccine products will occur and efficacy evaluation will be initiated next year.    

Getting to this point has involved the work done by thousands of scientists, clinical staff, community advocates and most importantly, trial volunteers.  Our goal is to develop a vaccine that will make a dent in the epidemic for all high risk groups globally.  In the last few months, we have added an additional biomedical intervention; one we call Antibody Mediated Prevention (AMP).  We will also be starting a trial using broadly neutralizing antibodies on a bi-monthly basis to reduce HIV acquisition, in partnership with the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).  This AMP trial has the potential to be a landmark trial for both HIV prevention and providing a new framework for HIV vaccine development.

In his keynote address at the Keystone Symposia this past March, Dr. Tony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, outlined the journey we have been on toward an HIV vaccine, and his determination to find one, saying, “We do not have an option for failure.”  With an estimated 2 million new infections in the coming year alone, we know our best long term hope for a sustainable end to the spread of HIV is a safe and effective vaccine, and I can see the finish line.  It will take a lot of hard work.  It will take determination to reach our goal.  Most of all, it will take the teamwork and support of our HIV prevention community, from the networks to the local sites to the communities at large.  It will take the hard work and passion of each of us whose lives have been touched by this disease to say, we will not allow this epidemic to continue.  It will take you.