April 24, 2018 – NMAC has announced that legendary HIV activist and writer Larry Kramer will speak at the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) on Sept. 7, 2018, in Orlando, FL. USCA will run from Sept. 7-10.
April 10, 2018 – NMAC has released Expanding Access to Biomedical HIV Prevention: Tailoring Approaches for Effectively Serving Communities of Color, a new report that establishes strategies to effectively use techniques such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Treatment as Prevention (TasP) to end the HIV epidemic in communities of color. The full report is available on NMAC’s website (link).
March 14, 2018 – NMAC has opened the eighth cycle of the Youth Initiative program to train future leaders in the fight against the HIV epidemic. The seven-month program is open to applicants ages 18-25. Youth living with HIV or on PrEP, LGBTQ, youth of color, and young cis & trans women are particularly encouraged to apply. For more information or to apply, visit the NMAC website. Applications are due by April 10.
Feb. 12, 2018 – NMAC is launching a new Community Spotlight series of webinars for 2018. These webinars will celebrate and spotlight communities that bear greater burdens in the HIV epidemic but are often invisible or overlooked due to issues of race, gender, or gender identity.
Greetings Family: During my freshman year at Howard University, I was exposed to "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar (which has since become one of my favorite poems of all time): We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— This debt we pay to human [...]
HIV Vaccine Research: A Marathon Not a Sprint
Today NMAC recognizes HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. While a HIV vaccine has not yet been discovered, we acknowledge the tremendous progress that has been made in HIV prevention research and look forward to ending the epidemic once and for all.
By Matthew Rose · NMAC Policy and Advocacy Manager
As I reflect on HIV vaccine research I am reminded about running a marathon. In the same ways marathon runners commit to the grueling training, the hard work, and the non-stop commitment towards a single goal, they know that the sweet reward of crossing the finish line will be worth all the struggles, aches, and pain.
The search for a vaccine for HIV has been a 30-year-long marathon. While we have maintained a sense of urgency in the fight against HIV, we have always known that this process would be a long-term endeavor. Vaccines are some of the most cost-effective prevention strategies. They were essential in eradicating diseases like smallpox, and in bringing other diseases like measles and polio under control. We know that HIV, like many other diseases that have taken decades for a vaccine to be developed, will not go away easily.
Yet while no fully licensed preventive HIV vaccine exists, tremendous progress has been made in the realm of HIV research. Scientists continue to push the envelope of creating a fully realized HIV vaccine, and because of many of their developments we have discovered pathways that have led to breakthroughs in creating vaccines for other infectious diseases such as Zika and Ebola.
By teaching the immune system to create responses that prevent HIV from establishing itself in the body, a HIV vaccine will be a prevention option that meets the needs of many communities most vulnerable to HIV; which, in the US, has disproportionately been people of color and women.
We are reaching a new mile marker in this race of a lifetime. For the first time in over a decade, two vaccine trials and another vaccine-related approach are either in or simultaneously moving into efficacy trials. The first, a vaccine trial known as HVTN 702, kicked off in South Africa last October. The other vaccine trial, will test a ‘mosaic’ candidate and starts in sub-Saharan Africa in the coming months. Finally, the antibody-mediated prevention study (the AMP study) is already underway in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. While these trials will only show results in the next several years, their prospects and the scientific findings are exciting. Most importantly, they represent a continued endurance on this long, hard road to discover what might be a large-scale game changer in the way we handle this enduring epidemic.
If the HIV epidemic has taught us anything, it is that we need multiple ways to fight the virus. People need options that fit into their lives and the way they live, so that HIV does not have to be a constant worry. Existing HIV prevention and treatment strategies are essential, yet there are many whose lives make it hard for them to use or access these methods; we owe it to them to establish a battery of additional options, including a vaccine. So we will continue until the finish line in the race that is the quest for an HIV vaccine. On the way we will continue to discover things that help fight for our better future: a world that gives all people hope… and options.
Yours in the Struggle,
Policy and Advocacy Manager
At NMAC, we call the Biomedical HIV Prevention Summit: The Summit. We believe the combination of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and TasP(Treatment as Prevention) can build real pathways to end the epidemic. Join us December 4-5, 2017 in New Orleans at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Thank you Gilead, Avita, and the Levi Strauss Foundation for your support of the Summit.
Unlike USCA, the conference that celebrates the diversity of issues impacting our movement, the Summit is a single-issue conference focused on biomedical HIV prevention. The meeting looks at implementation science and how to bring the promise of PrEP and TasP to communities hardest hit by HIV.
Last year NMAC held the first Summit. Here feedback we received from Gus Cairns from an article in NAM: aidsmap,
“The US National HIV PrEP Summit, which took place in early December in San Francisco, was one of the most extraordinary HIV meetings I have ever been to. This first-ever gathering of 600 people involved in PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) provision in the USA (plus 25 non-US scholarship recipients, mainly from Europe) was already designed to be something different from the standard HIV ‘discover-test-treat’ conference. But fate then intervened to make it happen at an extraordinary time – in between the US election and Donald Trump’s inauguration. The election result totally changed the conference’s atmosphere and meaning.
The PrEP summit was designed as an event of celebration and hope. Its structure, its speakers, even the way the plenary room was designed and the way the speakers dressed, all conveyed one message: we are all in this together, and PrEP really is the game-changer we have been looking for.
Plenary talks were given in the round, from a low stage in the centre of the room. So were panels, with discussants sitting in white designer chairs. Slides were shown, but in the corners of the room behind our heads, so people looked at the speaker instead.
The atmosphere was more akin to gay men’s prevention conferences in the 1990s than treatment conferences. There was little sense of hierarchy or experts-versus-learners. One prominent presenter came out as having just started PrEP, to warm applause. Workers for stern-sounding federal bureaus were hard to tell from community spokespeople. Discussions were facilitated by an ‘MC’, the activist Ken Williams, better known as the blogger ‘Ken Like Barbie’, who has no federal job to lose.
The conference audience was also notably different. A majority of attendees were women, about 50% were black, and flamboyant rather than conservative gayness was much on show. There was also a large, conspicuous and involved trans* contingent, mainly women but some men.”
Last year the Summit was sold-out and unfortunately we had to turn people away. This year the Summit can accommodate 1000 delegates. Register early because we must close close the meeting when it reaches capacity.
Important Summit Deadlines
- August 4th Scholarship Deadline
- October 6th Sponsorship Deadline
- November 3rd Early Bird Registration
I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans.
Yours in the struggle,
Director of Treatment