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World HIV/AIDS Vaccine Day Reminds of the Importance of Inclusion

World HIV/AIDS Vaccine Day Reminds of the Importance of Inclusion

<p>World HIV/AIDS Vaccine Day Reminds of the Importance of Inclusion</p>
Gustavo Fring / Pexels

Gustavo Fring / Pexels

When searching for the cure for HIV, it’s imperative to include disproportionately affected communities in drug trials to ensure a vaccine for everybody.

May 18 marks World AIDS Vaccine Day, also known as HIV Vaccine Knowledge Day, a day aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of HIV vaccinations in preventing HIV infection and AIDS.

Led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the day also seeks to honor medical professionals, scientists, and volunteers who have dedicated their lives to the development of a viable and safe AIDS vaccine.

HIV remains a global public health concern, having affected nearly 40 million people. It has become a manageable chronic health condition, with people living healthy and long lives due to improved access to efficient HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care.

Despite the progress made, HIV is still an epidemic in the United States. About 1.2 million people live with HIV in America today, and one in seven don’t know it, due to stigma or the lack of health care access.

Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, making up 43% of all new HIV diagnoses, despite being only 13% of the population. Black gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men experience 26% of new HIV diagnoses. Most alarmingly, about 44% of Black trans women are diagnosed with HIV.

Dr. David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, issued a statement commemorating this day, stating, “We are getting closer to a breakthrough, as the first HIV/AIDS vaccine will soon head to clinical trials. When that happens, public health authorities must include Black people–in our beautiful diversity–in those trials. Ensuring the meaningful participation of diverse representatives, especially from disproportionately impacted communities in clinical trials, is the only way to ensure that the vaccine works for all of us. It’s long past time that breakthroughs in modern science benefit all people - and it’s long past time that we have a vaccine for HIV infection and AIDS.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of vaccines and their impact on public health. As we continue to celebrate World AIDS Vaccine Day, let us remember the importance of diversity and inclusivity in clinical trials and ensure that the first HIV/AIDS vaccine works for all people, especially those who are disproportionately affected by this epidemic.

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