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Commemorating HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
Hands holding a red ribbon

May 18 is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day in the U.S. The day is an opportunity to recognize the efforts of the many volunteers, community members, health professionals and scientists working to develop a safe and effective HIV vaccine, and to educate communities about the importance of preventative HIV vaccine research. 

Emory University is recognized in the field of HIV research for developing new vaccine candidates and better treatments, such as the antiretroviral drug Emtriva, which is taken by more than 90 percent of U.S. patients with HIV. 

Notably, researchers at the Emory Vaccine Center have worked at the forefront of HIV vaccine development for over a decade. Led by director Rafi Ahmed, PhD, the center approaches HIV vaccine research with a comprehensive strategy that spans basic science, translational research and clinical trials. 

“Developing an effective HIV vaccine remains our highest priority, and the Emory Vaccine Center is fully committed to achieving this goal,” says Ahmed.

Emory Vaccine Center investigators are focused on areas of HIV research including: 

  • Better understanding HIV transmission
  • Better understanding antibody and T cell responses to the HIV virus
  • Creating vaccines to prevent and treat HIV infection
  • Developing a cure for people infected with HIV
  • Determining the safety and efficacy of HIV vaccines

In 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a five-year, $35.6 million grant to a research consortium led by Emory to develop strategies for preventing and curing HIV/AIDS. With the resources of the Emory Vaccine Center and the Emory National Primate Research Center, the Emory Consortium for Innovative AIDS Research in Nonhuman Primates (CIAR-NHP) has made important discoveries related to HIV infection prevention in monkeys.

Researchers at the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center are also conducting clinical trials to determine the safety and efficacy of HIV vaccines in humans. The clinic is currently recruiting participants for Phase I of the IAVI G002 trial, which utilizes Moderna’s mRNA technology to deliver HIV vaccine antigens. 

Approximately 38 million people currently live with HIV, and the virus continues to infect more than one million individuals each year. The work of the Emory Vaccine Center and its collaborators remains critical in the mission to prevent new infections and ultimately end the HIV pandemic.

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