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Survey: Many in U.S. Misunderstand HIV Vaccine

Some People Voice Belief That Secret Vaccine Already Exists

Best Hope, but Little Support

More than six in 10 survey takers agreed that HIV vaccines are the best hope of controlling the global AIDS epidemic. More than half of participants stated that it takes thousands of people to test a vaccine.

But a lot of people weren't so positive about the thought of a friend or family member signing up for an HIV vaccine trial.

Fewer than three in 10 stated that they would support someone they knew who was considering enrolling in an HIV vaccine trial. Blacks, Hispanics, and men who have sex with men voiced more support.

Safety Checks in Place

"Over the past three or so decades, the government has incorporated some extremely important safety measures and guidelines to ensure patient safety," says Murguia.

"We have all kinds of safety measures in place now that we did not have in the past. Therefore, the patient is foremost in terms of what our priorities are," he says.

Diverse Test Groups Needed

"We really have to have all different communities involved in the research, so that we can show that a vaccine works in all different communities," says Murguia.

"We need to have African-Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and [men who have sex with men], and Native Americans, and Native and Pacific Islanders, so that we can say when we get a vaccine, 'Look, we tested it in your communities; therefore, it will work in your communities.' And that's a key point, because we don't want to get a vaccine that people will be unwilling to take, because it does us no good at that point."

Only people who are HIV-negative can take part in a vaccine trial. Those interested in participating can call (800) HIV-0440 for more information. People with HIV may call the same number for information on treatment trials, says Murguia.

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