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A new survey by the HIV Vaccine Communications Campaign, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, shows that while most Americans believe HIV vaccines are the best hope for ending the AIDS pandemic, they wouldn't consider participating in an HIV vaccine trial or encourage family members or friends to do so. Reporting in the online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, the NIAID researchers say that about 73% of those polled said HIV vaccine research was important, but only 29% expressed strong support for friends or family members volunteering for HIV vaccine trials.
Much of that reluctance may be due to the fact that many survey respondents believe there is a risk of becoming infected with HIV from an experimental vaccine; 78% of African-Americans, 68% of men who have sex with men, and 57% of Latinos either did not know whether HIV vaccines could cause HIV infection or believed that they could do so, according to the survey.
"It is clear that we have a lot of work to do in explaining HIV vaccine research," said Matthew Murguia, director of the Office of Program Operations and Scientific Information in the NIAID Division of AIDS, who coauthored a paper based on the survey's findings. "We must develop strong partnerships with communities highly impacted by HIV/AIDS so individuals from these communities can make informed decisions about participating in HIV vaccine research."