NIH to launch outreach for HIV vaccine

BETHESDA, MD: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching

the first communications outreach for its HIV vaccine program. Twelve

federal officials will spend the next few weeks evaluating PR agency

pitches to execute what a government executive called 'one of the most

challenging and complicated public health information and education

campaigns ever mounted.'



The national and international outreach program, which is closed to

further pitches, will aim to create awareness, education and support of

HIV vaccine clinical trials in AIDS-affected communities. The goal is to

encourage eligible HIV-negative individuals to volunteer for clinical

trials to find a preventative HIV vaccine. The initial three-year

contract will include multi-media outreach to communities with higher

AIDS rates, including African-American and Latino audiences, which NIH

officials say are traditionally wary of both the government and clinical

research.



Tom LaSalvia is the program's associate director for planning and

communications.



He said the NIH would not know how much money it would spend on an

agency until it evaluated proposals. 'We anticipate there will be one

firm selected to be the prime contractor for this work,' he said.



LaSalvia added that a goal of the campaign is to correct misperceptions

about clinical research, especially the fact that vaccine trials cannot

infect people with HIV.



In addition to PSAs and op-ed pieces, LaSalvia said agencies will use

community forums, newsletters, and local and regional papers to get word

out about the need for vaccine trials. Agencies' proposals also

identified partner advertising firms.



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