Celebrating National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS

News on March 4th, 2013 Comments Off

Source: RochesterHomePage.net
By: Amy Young
Updated: March 4, 2013

Today kicked off the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States. One-fifth of them don’t even know it.

Rochester has the second rate of HIV in New York State, outside of New York City.

In Monroe County more than two-thousand people are diagnosed with HIV. A Rochester congregation is hoping to reach those afflicted and those who may not yet realize they are living with the disease.

I’m proud that the church is finally stepping up and coming out of the fog of not wanting to deal with this very very sensitive issue of HIV and AIDS," said Weldon Thomas, Pastor New Bethel C.M.E. Church.

On this Sunday, Pastor Weldon Thomas’s message hopes to reach those dealing with HIV and AIDS.

"We are realizing that our congregations are being affected more and more. The person sitting in the pew next to your may have a family member, we may have a family members who we’ve had to funeralize. People who are now living with HIV and AIDS and so. Pastors are becoming more sensitive to the fact that we must be at the forefront," added Thomas.

New Bethel C.M.E. Church provided free HIV and AIDS screening before and after this morning’s service.

The pastor also shared the pulpit with Dr. Michael Keefer, a professor at the University of Rochester, conducting clinical research A Professor at the University of Rochester conducting clinical research on preventative vaccines that may one day be the answer to the epidemic.

"The relatively, I think, sad part is that we’ve known for a number of years that the African American and Latino communities are bearing a disproportionate burden of the illness. What’s also distressing is also hitting young people, said Dr. Michael Keefer, University of Rochester.

Jackie Dozier with Minority Health Initiatives was also on hand to help guide those seeking help.

"If we can touch the lives of just one person, then we’ve done some service," said Jackie Dozier, Minority Health Initiatives.

As the title suggests the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS has various programs and services throughout the coming week, not here in Rochester but throughout the country.

To view the source article and a video of the event, visit: http://rochesterhomepage.net/fulltext?nxd_id=375092

Free Community Film Screening and Discussion

Events on February 25th, 2013 Comments Off

National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS 2013

Events on February 18th, 2013 Comments Off

National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS 2013

AIDS and African Americans (from City Newspaper)

News on November 9th, 2012 Comments Off

National and local experts, researchers, health-care workers, and activists will discuss the crisis at a symposium, "HIV/AIDS Crisis Among African Americans" from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, October 19. The event is sponsored by the University of Rochester.

One in 16 African-American men and one in 32 African-American women will learn at some point in their lives that they have HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though African Americans make up less than 14 percent of the US population, they represent half of all new HIV infections, the CDC says.

While scientists inch closer to a vaccine and other breakthroughs, some health-care experts question whether eradicating the disease is even possible until the underlying causes of the crisis are better understood.

Inequities born out of a mix of racism, homophobia, and poverty are helping the disease spread disproportionately in minority communities, says Cathy Bunce, a symposium panel member and principal HIV investigator with the University of Rochester Medical Center. Rochester residents between the ages of 18 to 26 accounted for most of the new cases in the city in 2010, she says.

The symposium is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Rush Rhees Library. It’s free and open to the public.


Uncategorized on March 30th, 2012 Comments Off

URMC’s HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials Unit Opens Buffalo Office

News on February 24th, 2011 Comments Off

Researchers Look to Western NY for Help in the Search for a Vaccine

February 21, 2011

The Rochester Victory Alliance, the University of Rochester Medical Center’s HIV vaccine clinical trials unit, has opened a satellite clinic in downtown Buffalo to make it easier for volunteers in western New York to participate in ongoing HIV vaccine trials. The office is located at 206 S. Elmwood Ave.

The new location is part of a collaboration with AIDS Community Services of Western NY (ACS), a not-for-profit community-based organization that provides HIV/AIDS education, support and medical services to eight counties in western New York.

“We are excited about bringing HIV preventive services to the Buffalo community and feel fortunate to have found such a great partner as AIDS Clinical Services in Buffalo,” said Rochester Victory Alliance Director Michael Keefer, M.D. “Since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, ACS has been dedicated to helping people at risk. They share our goal of one day achieving a world without AIDS. While that is still a long way off, they realize that what we all do today can make an important contribution.”

As new HIV/AIDS cases continue to grow each year, the demand for a vaccine is critical. Local and state statistics show that Buffalo and Rochester share similar rates of new HIV infections, with 67 to 69 percent found in men. Over 50 percent of new cases are in people ages 30 to 49, and almost 40 percent are African American. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in five men who have sex with men are HIV positive and nearly half do not know it. Young men – especially young black men – are least likely to be aware they are infected. Globally, approximately 33 million people live with AIDS today and more than 16 million children have been orphaned due to losing parents to the disease.

The University of Rochester Medical Center was one of the first sites in the nation to conduct HIV vaccine research studies, beginning in 1988. Since then, nearly 1,300 people from the Rochester area have participated in more than 50 vaccine research trials. The Rochester Victory Alliance is a member of the international HIV Vaccine Trials Network, which is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The Rochester Victory Alliance currently works with HIV vaccine research teams in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and South Africa.

For more information about services or volunteering in a trial*, contact the Rochester Victory Alliance at (855) 816-5500, or in Rochester at the University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Ave, Rochester, 14642, (585) 756-2329 (756-2DAY). Visit the Rochester Victory Alliance on Facebook at http://www.RochesterVictoryAlliance.org/and Twitter at http://twitter.com/RocVictAlliance.

*The Rochester Victory Alliance is currently recruiting for a study involving men who have sex with men, the fastest-rising group of new reported HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S. Men interested in volunteering for the study must be between the ages of 18 and 50, healthy, circumcised, sexually active and HIV-negative. Participation requires 10 to 12 confidential office visits, four of which must be at the Victory Alliance in Rochester. Participants will be paid an average of $1,000. The vaccine used in the study is synthetic and cannot cause HIV or AIDS.

For Media Inquiries:
Carole Dowling
(585) 275-0258
Email Carole Dowling


Justin’s Story

Uncategorized on January 19th, 2010 Comments Off

Click here to find out more about volunteering.

Click here to find out more about the science.

HIV vaccine stems from UR foundation

News on January 3rd, 2010 14,799 Comments

Public health officials in Thailand announced on Sept. 24 that an HIV vaccine has shown 30 percent effectiveness in preventing disease in the general Thai public. Preliminary studies that led to the development of the vaccine were performed at UR in the late 1990s.

The vaccine is a combination of two vaccines — one that is intended to kill HIV cells and the other that helps the body to produce antibodies to fight off the disease. It is the first of its kind to show conclusive evidence that a vaccine can work in humans.

Primary investigator of the Rochester HIV Vaccine Trials Unit and Professor of Medicine Michael Keefer helped conduct the preliminary research that eventually led to last week’s findings.

“It’s exciting mainly because it shows that it is possible to prevent HIV in humans,” Keefer said. “For a person like me who lives and breathes this research every day, this is huge. For the average person looking to get a vaccine from their doctor, that is probably years off.”

This is the first vaccine to show even limited potential in preventing HIV in humans. The seven-year study tracked 16,000 HIV-negative men and women ages 18 to 30 in Thailand who received the vaccine.

The study was double-blind, meaning that neither participants nor investigators knew which participants received which form of the vaccine. Of the participants who received the placebo, 74 became infected with HIV compared to 51 participants who received the vaccine.

The vaccine had only a 30 percent success rate, which means it can’t be licensed for use in any country. Most vaccines need to have higher than 95 percent effectiveness to be licensed for use. According to reporting by BBC World, major efforts will be directed toward data analysis of study results to improve the effectiveness of future vaccines.

Keefer has been studying HIV since 1988 when UR was one of only two sites worldwide studying the epidemic. Typically, the HIV Vaccine Trials Unit carries out phase I trials in people. The studies recruit a small number of low-risk volunteers for preliminary studies. Due to the presence of the vaccine unit, Rochester is one of the top cities in the world for participation in the search for an HIV vaccine.

“Now more than ever we need people to support our research efforts,” Keefer said.
UR is currently recruiting volunteers for local studies. UR is also assisting in a nationwide Phase II trial in the United States and Canada. The trial will test 3,000  patients on the effectiveness of a different type of HIV vaccine made from an inactivated cold virus.

Keefer stressed that a major concern in vaccine development is safety.
He explained two primary difficulties in developing an HIV vaccine. First, a vaccine works by activating the immune system against disease. However, HIV targets activated cells in the immune system. Therefore, some earlier HIV vaccine attempts have actually increased the risk of HIV infection instead of decreasing it.

Secondly, the virus is capable of mutating to adapt to the genetic diversities of a given population. For this reason, the Thai strain of the virus looks different from the virus in other parts of the world. In developing a vaccine, scientists are looking to target critical elements of the virus common to all strains.

According to the World Health Organization Web site, HIV has infected more than 60 million people worldwide and continues to spread at a rate of 14,000 new infections each day.

“Despite preventative measures, a new person contracts HIV once every eight seconds,” Keefer said.

Sahay is a member of the class of 2010.