Location: Puerto Rico
What motivates you to help find an HIV vaccine?
I have dedicated my professional career, and my personal life, to focusing on improving the lives and health of individuals from underserved communities with a focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and care and support. This epidemic has taken the lives of dear friends and colleagues: it was not so long ago that AIDS was essentially considered as a death sentence. While today the epidemic is significantly different from when I started in the mid-80s with amazing advances in treatment and care, HIV/AIDS continues to present a critical challenges to all of us. But success is uneven: improved life opportunities are not being experienced by all those who are infected. The deadly impact HIV/AIDS was having in communities across the world made me realize that, in order to successfully fight it, I needed to join others including health professionals, scientists, volunteers, and community members and leaders in ongoing outreach efforts around science and research so that people better understand the complexity of HIV/AIDS. As a husband and a father, my dream and ambition is to see a future free of AIDS for my children and generations to come. I believe that finding an HIV vaccine is our best hope to ending the pandemic.
Do you think we will be the generation to find an HIV vaccine?
Because finding a preventive HIV vaccine is essential to controlling the AIDS epidemic, individuals as well as local and national organizations across the U.S. are working together in outreach and education strategies to reach people to ensure that they are more aware, educated, and supportive of HIV vaccine research. Community awareness is very important to creating an environment that fosters clinical trials support and volunteerism—without a supportive and engaging environment, we cannot move forward with finding new vaccines and treatments.
What can people do to help find an HIV vaccine?
Individuals can be involved and help find a vaccine by simply spreading the word about HIV vaccine research. Because finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent HIV will require the participation of thousands of people from all walks of life, learning more about the research and supporting those who volunteer in clinical trials is crucial to our overall success. People can also learn through this website where the research is being conducted and join a community advisory board or even participate in a study. Individuals might think that they are only one and will not have an impact, nothing could be more wrong. Each person who gets involved in supporting vaccine research helps bring us closer to world in which HIV/AIDS is no longer a threat.