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Military Researchers Have Much to Celebrate This World Aids Day

Posted by: Health.mil Staff

Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Sunday December 1, governments, civic groups and citizens across the globe will pause to observe World Aids Day -- an opportunity to build awareness about the epidemic and celebrate the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year's theme is Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation. More than 35 million people are living with HIV.

The U.S. military has long been at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS not just to protect our troops around the world, but also to deter the threat that the infection poses to other countries. For example, the Army’s Military HIV Research Program helps carry out the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Efforts funded by the president’s initiative have led to sharp declines in AIDS-related deaths. The Military HIV Research Program alone has helped place more than 200,000 people in Africa on life-saving antiretroviral treatment and test more than four million for the virus.

The program’s primary mission, however, is to develop a safe and effective HIV vaccine. Significant inroads have been made. Col. (Dr.) Jerome Kim, deputy director of the program, helped lead the Thai HIV vaccine trial a few years ago that demonstrated for the first time that a vaccine could be used to protect against the infection. It was a groundbreaking discovery.

Military HIV Research Program scientists and their international counterparts are building on the success of that vaccine, which targeted HIV strains found in Thailand, by developing a universal vaccine capable of global protection, Kim said. The first version of this next-generation HIV vaccine should enter early clinical trials in humans in late 2014.

Although plenty of trials and studies still lay ahead, military doctors and scientists can be proud of what they have accomplished in their pursuit of an AIDS-free world. We recognize their dedication and hard work.