November 12, 2008
Washington, DC -- Around the world, at the end of 2007, there were an estimated 33.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS. 2 million of those living with HIV/AIDS were children, and 2.5 million were newly infected. More than 2 million people died of HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2007. Every day during that year 1,000 children became infected with HIV. Right here in Brooklyn, HIV/AIDS claimed over 500 lives in 2006. That same year, 24,482 people were living with HIV/AIDS in Brooklyn, with over a thousand people newly diagnosed with the virus or disease. It is clear that HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic. Lives have been extended by antiretroviral drugs, but globally, at least 70% of those who need ARVs do not have access to them. What we need is a vaccine to protect those at risk from contracting HIV in the first place. There are an estimated 7,000 people becoming infected with HIV every day; a vaccine would halt the spread and save countless lives here in Brooklyn and around the world. This is why the work of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is so vitally important. Their mission is to develop a safe, effective, accessible, and preventive HIV vaccine. A cornerstone of this mission is the new AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory, located right here in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. IAVI, in collaboration with SUNY Downstate Medical Center and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, will open the new lab on November 12, 2008. This new Design Lab will join other IAVI labs, academic partners and researchers around the world in the search for a vaccine to make HIV infections a thing of the past, like we did with polio and small pox.