As HIV prevention workers serving twelve counties across Colorado’s Front Range, we are concerned that today’s headline reading “Vaccine successfully stops virus” may lead to a false sense of security for those at risk for HIV infection. Trial results showed a limited change for 31% of those who participated in a targeted population in Thailand, not the US. As there are numerous strains of the human immunodeficiency virus, this may or may not have long term benefits in America.
While we are cautiously optimistic about the news, we wholeheartedly agree with HIV expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s disclaimer that even with a vaccine that is effective 100% of the time, a strategy that combines the use of a vaccine with safer sex practices, correct condom use, regular HIV testing and counseling, and medically accurate HIV transmission information is absolutely critical to curb the spread of HIV. Vaccines do not act “retroactively”, so for those who have high risk behavior, the vaccine will not “undo” infection.
Boulder County has seen a 100% increase in the numbers of individuals testing positive for HIV since January. We’re excited about this potential for a vaccine, but want the public to understand that the vaccine is not a cure and is not currently 100% effective. Until there is a cure, HIV prevention works! Call BCAP (Boulder, Broomfield, Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties) at 303-444-6121 or NCAP (Larimer, Weld, Morgan, Logan, Washington, Sedgwick, Phillips and Yuma Counties) at 970-484-4469 for information on HIV testing and prevention.
Ana Hopperstad, Executive Director, BCAP
Frank O’Cana, Atlas Prevention Coordinator, BCAP
Jenna Borys, Community Outreach Coordinator, BCAP
Rodolfo Martinez-Puentes, Hispanos Prevention Coordinator, BCAP
Charles Fletcher, Colorado MANReach
Christopher Grano, Prevention Director, NCAP
Jeremiah Johnson, Prevention Specialist, NCAP