TO: Health/science editors, reporters, broadcast producers
RE: AIDS@30 – HIV/AIDS vaccine experts from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and vaccine trial participants are available for interviews about the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s announcement of the nation’s first identified HIV infections.
WHEN: The anniversary is Sunday, June 5, 2011
WHAT: The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), established in 1999 by the National Institutes of Health, is headquartered at the Hutchinson Center. HVTN is an international collaboration of scientists and educators searching for an effective and safe HIV vaccine.
WHO: Several HIV vaccine researchers and several vaccine trial participants are available for interviews upon request.
Three of the HVTN’s leaders can provide their insights into the 30-year fight against HIV and their work to develop a vaccine to prevent infection:
Dr. Lawrence Corey is president and director of the Hutchinson Center and principal investigator of HVTN. He is an internationally renowned expert in virology, immunology and vaccine development. Corey’s research focuses on herpes viruses, HIV and other viral infections, particularly those associated with cancer. Corey has specialized in herpes virus since the early 1980s and began work on HIV later in the same decade.
Dr. Julie McElrath is the HVTN co-principal investigator and director of the HVTN laboratory program and the Seattle Vaccine Trials Unit. She is acknowledged as a world leader in HIV vaccine research and is the recipient of a $30 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. McElrath also studies the phenomenon of “elite controllers” – longtime HIV-infected persons who remain healthy without treatment and do not develop AIDS, as well as people who do not contract the disease despite sexual contact with infected partners.
Steve Wakefield is director of external relations for HVTN and founder of its Legacy Project, an effort to increase participation by minorities in clinical trials. Wakefield can discuss his decades of working with communities to try to overcome barriers to trials participation and his insights about on how HIV/AIDS is viewed in Seattle and other U.S. communities.
Please note that Corey and McElrath will be attending a conference June 1-3 in Washington, D.C. They are available for advance interviews before they leave and will have limited availability by phone during the conference.
The study participants:
Several Seattle-area current and former vaccine trial participants, including those who have lived with HIV, have agreed to share their stories. They include:
A man who was infected with HIV more than 25 years ago but has not progressed to AIDS for an unknown reason. He is participating in studies led by McElrath to help determine why.
A gay couple in which only one of the two has HIV. Such “discordant couples” also are being studied for clues to the biological factors influencing the sexual transmission of HIV and the impact of antiretroviral therapy to prevent infection.
HIV-positive and HIV-negative vaccine trial participants who can discuss why they chose to volunteer to help find an HIV vaccine.
MORE: For more information about the Hutchinson Center’s role in HIV research, visit http://www.fhcrc.org/research/diseases/hiv_aids/