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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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Is There an AIDS Vaccine?

1 in 5 Americans think there is an AIDS vaccine and the government is keeping it secret.
WebMD Health News

May 16, 2003 -- There's no vaccine for AIDS. It's a sad truth -- but one in five Americans doesn't believe it.

A poll of 3,500 U.S. residents shows that 20% of Americans believe that an AIDS vaccine exists but is being kept secret. That's the view of nearly half of African Americans and of 28% of Hispanics.

The findings come from a study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). It has not yet been released, but some early data is being announced to generate public interest in International HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, May 18.

The study shows that nearly everybody believes an AIDS vaccine to be "extremely" or "very important." That's good news. The bad news is there's a lot more people need to know:

  • Potential vaccines have to be tested in thousands of people before they can be approved. Only 58% of Americans know that.
  • AIDS vaccines can't cause AIDS. But only one in four Americans knows that. Nearly one in three believe HIV vaccines now being tested can cause AIDS.
  • Everyday, 16,000 people across the globe become infected with HIV. There are now more than 43 million people living with HIV infection. More than 90% cannot afford life-saving AIDS drugs.

"HIV vaccine research is our best hope, along with other prevention and treatment efforts, to slow the spread of HIV," NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, says in a news release.

On May 18, people observing International HIV Vaccine Awareness day will be wearing upside-down AIDS ribbons. If you want to know more, stop one of them and ask. Or better still, volunteer to participate in an AIDS vaccine clinical trial. You just might save the world.

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