A legacy of trust / Myth busters

The Legacy Project works to increase the participation of people of color in HIV vaccine trials. Our goal is to make sure the HIV vaccine works for the populations most affected by the virus. We are building a legacy of trust, where once there was mistrust.

The lack of good HIV information in our communities of color allows myths to take over. Do any of these sound familiar? "AIDS was created to kill off Black and Hispanic people." "There is already a vaccine that could prevent the spread of HIV, but because it only works on Blacks and Hispanics, no one wants to invest in it." "HIV is only a problem in Africa—not Philadelphia."

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Black gay males are less likely to get tested for HIV so are less likely to know their status.1 African American and Hispanic women are 25 times and six times, respectively, more likely to contract HIV than their White counterparts.2 Fifty percent of new, U.S. HIV diagnoses occur in our Black population.3

There is an urgent need to increase African American and Hispanic participation in HIV vaccine trials in order to make sure that it will work for the people who are most in need. And right now the myths that are spread about HIV are hurting this effort. Help us break the silence, speak the truth and build trust.

MYTH: An HIV vaccine already exists.
TRUTH: To date, there is no effective vaccine against HIV; however, efforts are underway to create one. This myth may have started after a report on an HIV vaccine trial that suggested there may be some protection from the vaccine among non-Hispanic minorities. A scientific review of the report demonstrated that mistakes were made in the study of the results.

MYTH: HIV was created by the U.S. government.
TRUTH: HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is almost identical to a strain of a similar virus found in chimpanzees. Many human viruses, such as the flu, also originated in other animals and over time spread to humans.

MYTH: HIV vaccine trials cause HIV infections.
TRUTH: It is impossible to get an HIV infection or AIDS from experimental HIV vaccines. HIV vaccines are not made from live HIV, killed HIV, weakened HIV, or HIV-infected cells.

Read what community leaders and experts in the HIV/AIDS field say about engaging people of color and gay men in HIV vaccine trials:

Engaging African Americans in HIV Vaccine Research

Engaging Hispanics & Latinos in HIV Vaccine Research

Engaging Gay Men in HIV Vaccine Research

1Beyrer, Chris. (2006, August) HIV Epidemiology Update and Transmission Factors: Risks and Risk Contexts. Delivered at the International AIDS Conference, Toronto, Canada.
2CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2004. Vol. 16. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DCD: 2005:I-46.
3CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2004. Vol. 16. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DCD: 2005:I-46.