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Top 3 reasons Latinos should participate in HIV vaccine testing

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3. To understand HIV immunity better

HIV is one of the most studied pathogens in human history. However, the virus’ rapid mutation and error-prone replication process make it a difficult target for vaccine development. That’s part of why it has been so difficult to find an effective vaccine so far. As more people participate in HIV vaccine testing, scientists gain a better understanding of how the immune system responds to proteins that look like HIV (since the actual virus is not used in making HIV vaccines). This information is used to improve vaccines, develop new treatments and identify new targets to more effectively prevent HIV infection.

2. To ensure safety of vaccines

All medications on pharmacy shelves and all vaccines administered in doctor’s offices have something in common – they have all undergone extensive medical testing to ensure their safety and efficacy. Medical research depends on the contributions of people from all walks of life giving of themselves for the benefit of people across the globe. Reasons for enrolling in clinical trials are highly personal and vary from participant to participant, but diverse participation is a vital part of the search for an effective HIV vaccine.

1. To ensure efficacy in diverse populations

As previously mentioned, the success of medications and vaccines depends on the contributions of research volunteers. When participants come predominantly from one demographic group, the ability to generalize the resulting product is limited. For example, long-used cardiac medications have been shown to be less effective in diverse communities than in white populations. This is due in part to the fact that the vast majority of research participants in the United States are white. This is particularly problematic for conditions like HIV that disproportionally affect diverse communities. By increasing diversity in clinical trials participation, we can ensure that any vaccine brought to market can have the most benefit in the hardest-hit populations.

Read about Augusto’s experience as a clinical trial participant.

 

HIV is a global issue. Responding to it and preventing its spread requires the active participation of all communities, particularly those most affected by it, as are Latinos in the United States. For more information about participating in HIV vaccine trials, contact vaccines@nih.gov.