Be The Generation
Be The Generation was created by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to maintain and establish relationships with communities most impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in order to promote awareness, understanding, dialogue, and support for biomedical prevention research, including HIV vaccine research, microbicide research, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (also known as PrEP) research.
The success of HIV prevention research studies depends on the understanding, trust, support, and participation of all communities. While treatment effectiveness and simplicity has improved tremendously, there is currently no cure for AIDS. Finding safe and effective methods to prevent the spread of HIV is our best hope for stopping the AIDS epidemic. We cannot stop the AIDS epidemic with care and treatment alone. Prevention is essential. Be the Generation started with the urgent need for an effective, preventative HIV vaccine, and has recently expanded to include all biomedical prevention work.
What is biomedical prevention research?
Biomedical HIV prevention includes a number of things that are medically based and are different than behavioral approaches to HIV prevention. Biomedical HIV prevention approaches that are currently being studied include: HIV vaccines; vaginal and rectal microbicides; the use of anti-HIV drugs (known as anti-retrovirals) for protection before coming into contact with HIV ( pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP); the use of anti-HIV drugs or anti-retrovirals for protection after coming into contact with HIV (post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP); Prevention with Positives (maintaining undetectable HIV viral loads in persons with HIV as a way to prevent HIV infection in their sexual partner. HPTN 052 is an example of this you may have heard of). Other biomedical HIV prevention ideas include: male circumcision, and the treatment and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes. Combinations of methods need to be studied as no single method will likely be 100% effective.
Biomedical research also involves designing combination prevention programs that are appropriate for different populations with different and diverse needs.
Behavioral HIV prevention includes acquiring new knowledge and behavioral change. Examples of behavioral HIV prevention include safe sex negotiations, regular condom use, limiting the number of sexual partners, etc.
The best prevention strategies will be a combination of biomedical and behavioral approaches. All biomedical prevention research includes a behavioral component, where participants receive education and counseling about safe sex, limiting substance use, etc.
What is AIDS Alliance role in Be the Generation?
The AIDS Alliance Be the Generation project goal is to increase awareness and support for bio-medical prevention research among the general public and particularly among communities at highest risk for acquiring HIV and who would most likely benefit from the outcomes of bio-medical research.
This will be accomplished through a series of activities that include summarizing the news and presentations from different research meetings. This includes the Microbicides Trials Network (MTN), HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) meetings as well as other relevant research and policy developments; spreading this information through our national emails, our website and other mechanisms. The project will also provide education & trainings to all staff, board members and interns here at AIDS Alliance. Additionally, in Year 2 we will train and support local educators to conduct local workshops addressing HIV vaccine, microbicides and other biomedical prevention research that is relevant to our community of women, families and youth, primarily young gay men.
We can all be the generation to end the AIDS epidemic.
More Be the Generation information:
What are microbicides?
- Microbicides are products to help prevent or reduce the risk for HIV infection. Microbicides may be used vaginally or rectally to help protect people from sexual transmission of HIV and potentially other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Microbicides are currently in development and are being tested in several forms including gels, creams, films, suppositories, or as a sponge or ring that releases the active ingredients over time.
- Microbicides are a prevention tool, not a cure for HIV.
Are there any microbicides being used by the public?
- While scientists are currently testing various versions of microbicides, none has been yet approved for release to the public.
- The safety and effectiveness of microbicides must be established separately for vaginal and rectal use.
- Once approved, microbicides will be an essential tool to help control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
To learn more about microbicides research and the newest information on microbicides click here or go to the Microbicides Trials Network site: http://www.mtnstopshiv.org
What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?
- Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is an HIV prevention approach that uses anti-HIV drugs on HIV negative individuals as a method to prevent HIV infection.
- When combined with other prevention strategies, PrEP has been shown in studies to reduce HIV infection risk.
Can PrEP be a substitute for condoms and other prevention methods?
- No- PrEP is not a substitute for other essential prevention strategies including condoms.
- PrEP has shown to be effective in some populations when used in combination with regular HIV testing, condoms, and other proven prevention methods.
- PrEP is part of a comprehensive HIV prevention approach, not a cure for HIV. High risk HIV negative men and transwomen who have sex with men may take antiretroviral medication (PrEP) to lower their chances of becoming infected with HIV if they are exposed to it.
- To learn more about PrEP go to the AVAC website & view their pages on PrEP http://www.avac.org/ht/d/sp/i/262/pid/262/cat_id/458/cids/453,458
Why is an HIV vaccine important?
- A vaccine helps your body learn how to fight infections, such as HIV. An HIV vaccine would help your body protect itself from HIV infection. No major epidemic caused by a virus has been stopped without a vaccine. Right now, there is no vaccine to prevent HIV, and there is still no cure for AIDS.
- Even though there still is no preventive HIV vaccine, each new research discovery helps guide future efforts. In 2009, a vaccine tested in Thailand was able to cut down HIV infections by about one third. This gives us hope that we can one day find a vaccine that works well for everyone.
Why is it taking so long to create an HIV vaccine?
- More than 25 years to develop an HIV vaccine might seem like a long time, but most vaccines we use today took at least 30 years to develop.
- HIV is a tricky virus. It can "hide" from the antibodies that protect the body. Also, there are many different types of HIV, and the virus changes rapidly, even in a single infected person.
To learn more about HIV Vaccine Research go to the HIV Vaccine Trials Network site at http://www.hvtn.org.