May 18, 2011
May 18 is the 14th annual observance of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. This day provides an opportunity to recognize the volunteers, community members, health professionals, and scientists working together toward finding an HIV vaccine. This day is also an opportunity to educate communities across the United States about the importance of HIV vaccine research.
Two types of HIV vaccine candidates are currently being studied in clinical trials. Therapeutic HIV vaccine candidates are designed to treat HIV-infected people. Preventive HIV vaccine candidates are designed to prevent HIV infection in people who do not already have HIV. Even though no HIV vaccines are currently available or approved by the Food and Drug Administration, significant research is under way to develop an effective vaccine.
Each year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of AIDS Research (OAR) develops a Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research. The Reducing New Infections section of the 2011 Plan includes the following goals related to HIV vaccine research:
- Increase scientific knowledge through basic research on protective immune responses and host defenses against HIV to facilitate the development of vaccines and other interventions to prevent and/or control HIV infection
- Design vaccine components and delivery methods that elicit long-lasting protective immune responses to HIV; facilitate development and preclinical evaluation of vaccine strategies in laboratory studies and animal models; and foster collaboration between academicians, government and nongovernment organizations, and industry in the research and development of candidate vaccines, including vaccines for particular populations such as breastfeeding infants, adolescents, and women
- Identify mechanisms of protective immunity to HIV in newborns and infants and support the development of study designs for vaccine strategies and passive immune interventions for preventing or controlling HIV infection in this population
- Conduct Phase I, II, and III clinical trials for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy with candidate HIV vaccines or concepts in domestic and international settings
- Develop strategies, infrastructure, and collaborations with researchers, communities, government and nongovernment organizations, and industry to ensure adequate performance of HIV vaccine trials, while balancing the prevention needs for at-risk populations; identify domestic and foreign populations; and perform research to define seroincidence and viral subtypes and to determine and optimize feasibility of vaccine studies in appropriate populations