» By JENELLE GREWELL – jgrewell@my.apsu.edu

The world needs a vaccine for HIV. After more than 20 years of research, scientists are getting closer to what they think is a solution with the clinical trial called HVTN 505.

HVTN 505 is a safe vaccine that does not contain any form of the HIV virus and attempts to lengthen the time before an infected person experiences symptoms of AIDS.

However, recent studies have shown the HVTN 505 trial could be expanded to explore ways a vaccine might prevent HIV.

The study is now seeking to broaden the amount of participants in the trial from 1,350 to 2,200 HIV-negative men and transgender women who have sex with men, according to the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

The HVTN 505 clinical trial is conducted by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. The trial for the Clarksville area is conducted through the Vanderbilt University HIV Vaccine Program.

“We enroll volunteers in the HIV vaccine trials. We give them the vaccine and we follow up to see if they have any side affects to help develop a preventative for HIV,” said Casey Braddy, Community Educator/Recruiter of the HIV Vaccine Trials at Vanderbilt University.

Braddy said the HIV vaccine trials are important to the APSU community because HIV has a higher rate among young people.

“In order to develop something, that something has to represent the community that is typically infected with HIV,” Braddy said.

Yasmin Ortiz, sophomore Health major, said she does not think the trial vaccine should be given to students.

“Somebody who already had it might benefit more,” Ortiz said.

Braddy said The Vanderbilt University HIV Vaccine Program is reaching out to the APSU Gay-Straight Alliance. Braddy said gay men represent one of the largest demographics infected with HIV.

Administrators from the Vanderbilt University HIV Vaccine Program have met with GSA to discuss what needs to be done with the trials and they also sponsor a lot of GSA’s events, such as Condom Day, said GSA President Ryan Whipkey.

“GSA has a few members that are actually in the program and so that’s the way to help them, to actually join the program,” Whipkey said.

“Its important because it affects everybody, but it is very prevalent in the LGBT community, as well as the African American community. And so they try to focus on both groups to figure out why, and they have studies geared towards both groups,” Whipkey said. He said the ones that the members of GSA are in are geared towards males in the LGBT community.

Whipkey said there are two or three members of GSA involved in the trials, himself included. He said they are testing for how the body reacts to the vaccine, such as bruising, redness, tenderness and temperature. “If anything is different, even if its mild, they want to know.”

Whipkey said he has gotten past all the stages of the vaccine and is now being observed. He said throughout the whole trial he has never experiences any side affects.

“It’s kind of difficult for APSU to get involved because [the trials] are based in Nashville and although there is a lot of interest in Clarksville, we still do have to drive down there once a month or every other month for an hour and then drive back. So it seems kind of pointless for some people,” Whipkey said.

Whipkey said he thinks the HIV Vaccine Trials are helping because they have done many trials in the past and so far everything they have done has progressed to the next stage.

“There is no personal gain you can get from being in it, but the more people that join the better the results are going to be and the quicker they can go ahead and do these trials. The more people up here that we can get to join, the better for them,” Whipkey said. TAS