Gay, HIV-positive Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo has joined up with
a biotech firm in Atlanta to raise awareness of research to develop a vaccine for the virus.
Panozzo agreed to become a spokesman for GeoVax labs after he met the firm's lead scientist, Harriet Robinson.
"Having been diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1991, and having lost many relatives and friends to HIV/AIDS over the years, I found Dr. Robinson's quest for a vaccine hitting very close to home," he said in a statement Wednesday. "The hope [is for] a vaccine that can be taken once a year at much less cost than current treatments allow, and one that can be made readily available to patients around the world. It could be the beginning of the end of HIV as we know it today. I don't want to give people false hope, but there are grounds for hope."
GeoVax's preventive vaccine candidate has concluded Phase I clinical human trials. A Phase IIa trial, conducted and funded by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, is expected to be completed in 2011. The company is also about to begin enrolling volunteers for a Phase I trial of a therapeutic vaccine.