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