Mitchell Warren

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HIV Vaccine Awareness Day | 

by hitthatswitch, Flickr

It’s HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

So you should, at the very least, be aware that for the first time in decades there’s optimism in the field of HIV vaccine research. We appear to be making progress.

I attended a big AIDS vaccine research meeting in Atlanta last fall, at which there was almost a kind of giddiness among scientists who for decades had been frustrated time after time, making little progress. A clinical trial in Thailand, run by the U.S. military in collaboration with Thai scientists, showed for the first time that a vaccine could prevent infection.

Yet the public, I bemoaned at the time, was barely paying any attention .

“This is an exciting time in HIV prevention research,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition.

Most of the public attention is on advances in treatment, Warren said, though last week scientists showed that treatment is prevention by documenting (again) that getting HIV-infected on drugs helps prevent the spread of HIV — a finding that some say is a “gamechanger” in the global fight against HIV.

“At the same time, it is important that the progress in the search for an AIDS vaccine not be over-looked,” Warren said.