Monday, May 18, marks HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (#HVAD) 2020. At a time when the world is acutely mindful of the importance of vaccines, #HVAD marks a moment to honor and support the scientists, advocates and volunteers working to develop an HIV vaccine. It’s also a chance to see how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting that work.

The awareness day is led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Anthony S. Fauci, MD, whom everyone now recognizes from his work on the country’s COVID-19 effort, heads NIAID (he has also been involved in fighting the HIV epidemic since its emergence in the early 1980s).

In the video at the top of this article, Fauci explains the two main approaches to developing HIV vaccines and why a vaccine is so vital in the first place.

AVAC, an organization that focuses on global support for HIV prevention, offers social media packages, fact sheets, vaccine basics and other infographics about #HVAC.

“This HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD), May 18, 2020, is like no other before,” writes AVAC in a page dedicated to the topic. “HIV and COVID-19 each present a vivid picture of the need for the vaccine enterprise. A durable, sustainable end to any epidemic depends on a vaccine. HVAD is a day to call attention to the still urgent need for an HIV vaccine, take stock of progress, recognize the incalculable contributions of trial participants and researchers—and, this year, to explain how work in HIV has created a foundation for the unprecedented speed of COVID-19 vaccine development. This HVAD also presents an opportunity to advocate for the global capacity and collaboration needed for the next epidemic.”

The NIAID website offers a History of HIV Vaccine Research, which begins in 1984 and continues to the present day’s Mosaico trial. That effort involves gay and bi men and transgender people and seeks to develop a vaccine that is effective against many strains of HIV found across the globe.

To learn more about Mosaico and the current state of research, read “How Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected HIV Vaccine Trials.” And for a collection of POZ content related to vaccines, including HIV prevention and hepatitis shots, click #Vaccines.

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