National HIV Testing Day: Watch New Video with Key Leaders

Cross-posted from

National HIV Testing Day: Watch New Video with Key Leaders

As we approach National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) on June 27th, our latest FYI video features Kayla Quimbley, an Advocates for Youth Activist, National Youth HIV/AIDS Ambassador, and member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. In the video, Ms. Quimbley moderates a conversation with Harold Phillips, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, and Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, about the importance of the annual observation.

Watch their conversation here:

National HIV Testing Day Theme

“Take the Test & Take the Next Step,” this year’s NHTD theme, is a call to action to encourage HIV testing as the first step to good sexual health, regardless of the result. Due to the expansion of HIV self-testing, as Dr. Mermin noted, people can take at-home HIV tests and know their results in 20 minutes. “Getting an HIV test is an essential step in the pathway for better health,” Dr. Mermin emphasized. He also touted CDC’s National HIV, STI, and Hepatitis Locator, which helps find nearby places that offer free HIV testing by entering a ZIP code. Find the locator here.

Mr. Phillips noted that this year’s theme is one of empowerment, acknowledging that ongoing HIV stigma and discrimination affect HIV testing, which can, however, be dismantled person-by-person through increased HIV testing. He also noted that HIV testing is foundational to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and a key pillar of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. Additionally, he shared that the expansion of HIV testing to emergency departments, pharmacies, and community health centers, in tandem with the growth of HIV self-testing, is key to increasing the number of people who know their HIV status.

Additional Resources

Watch the conversation with Mr. Phillips and Dr. Mermin. For additional HIV testing resources, please visit:

  • CDC’s Get Tested web page for free, fast, and confidential sexual health testing near you.
  • for information on how to order HIV self-tests. This site is a collaboration between Emory University, Building Healthy Online Communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NASTAD, OraSure, and Signal.

Encouraging First-in-Human Results for a Promising HIV Vaccine (NIH Director’s Blog)

Researchers used a customized nanoparticle (top left) to learn more about guiding the immune system to mount a desired robust response, the type needed for an effective HIV vaccine. Credit: Donny Bliss, NIH

Cross-posted from: NIH Director’s Blog

Researchers used a customized nanoparticle (top left) to learn more about guiding the immune system to mount a desired robust response, the type needed for an effective HIV vaccine. Credit: Donny Bliss, NIH


Posted on June 6th, 2023 by Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed some truly inspiring progress in vaccine development. That includes the mRNA vaccines that were so critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, the first approved vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and a “universal flu vaccine” candidate that could one day help to thwart future outbreaks of more novel influenza viruses.

Inspiring progress also continues to be made toward a safe and effective vaccine for HIV, which still infects about 1.5 million people around the world each year [1]. A prime example is the recent first-in-human trial of an HIV vaccine made in the lab from a unique protein nanoparticle, a molecular construct measuring just a few billionths of a meter.

The results of this early phase clinical study, published recently in the journal Science Translational Medicine [2] and earlier in Science [3], showed that the experimental HIV nanoparticle vaccine is safe in people. While this vaccine alone will not offer HIV protection and is intended to be part of an eventual broader, multistep vaccination regimen, the researchers also determined that it elicited a robust immune response in nearly all 36 healthy adult volunteers.

How robust? The results show that the nanoparticle vaccine, known by the lab name eOD-GT8 60-mer, successfully expanded production of a rare type of antibody-producing immune B cell in nearly all recipients.

What makes this rare type of B cell so critical is that it is the cellular precursor of other B cells capable of producing broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) to protect against diverse HIV variants. Also very good news, the vaccine elicited broad responses from helper T cells. They play a critical supportive role for those essential B cells and their development of the needed broadly neutralizing antibodies.

For decades, researchers have brought a wealth of ideas to bear on developing a safe and effective HIV vaccine. However, crossing the finish line—an FDA-approved vaccine—has proved profoundly difficult.

A major reason is the human immune system is ill equipped to recognize HIV and produce the needed infection-fighting antibodies. And yet the medical literature includes reports of people with HIV who have produced the needed antibodies, showing that our immune system can do it.

But these people remain relatively rare, and the needed robust immunity clocks in only after many years of infection. On top of that, HIV has a habit of mutating rapidly to produce a wide range of identity-altering variants. For a vaccine to work, it most likely will need to induce the production of bnAbs that recognize and defend against not one, but the many different faces of HIV.

To make the uncommon more common became the quest of a research team that includes scientists William Schief, Scripps Research and IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center, La Jolla, CA; M. Juliana McElrath, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle; and Kristen Cohen, a former member of the McElrath lab now at Moderna, Cambridge, MA. The team, with NIH collaborators and support, has been plotting out a stepwise approach to train the immune system into making the needed bnAbs that recognize many HIV variants.

The critical first step is to prime the immune system to make more of those coveted bnAb-precursor B cells. That’s where the protein nanoparticle known as eOD-GT8 60-mer enters the picture.

This nanoparticle, administered by injection, is designed to mimic a small, highly conserved segment of an HIV protein that allows the virus to bind and infect human cells. In the body, those nanoparticles launch an immune response and then quickly vanish. But because this important protein target for HIV vaccines is so tiny, its signal needed amplification for immune system detection.

To boost the signal, the researchers started with a bacterial protein called lumazine synthase (LumSyn). It forms the scaffold, or structural support, of the self-assembling nanoparticle. Then, they added to the LumSyn scaffold 60 copies of the key HIV protein. This louder HIV signal is tailored to draw out and engage those very specific B cells with the potential to produce bnAbs.

As the first-in-human study showed, the nanoparticle vaccine was safe when administered twice to each participant eight weeks apart. People reported only mild to moderate side effects that went away in a day or two. The vaccine also boosted production of the desired B cells in all but one vaccine recipient (35 of 36). The idea is that this increase in essential B cells sets the stage for the needed additional steps—booster shots that can further coax these cells along toward making HIV protective bnAbs.

The latest finding in Science Translational Medicine looked deeper into the response of helper T cells in the same trial volunteers. Again, the results appear very encouraging. The researchers observed CD4 T cells specific to the HIV protein and to the LumSyn in 84 percent and 93 percent of vaccine recipients. Their analyses also identified key hotspots that the T cells recognized, which is important information for refining future vaccines to elicit helper T cells.

The team reports that they’re now collaborating with Moderna, the developer of one of the two successful mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, on an mRNA version of eOD-GT8 60-mer. That’s exciting because mRNA vaccines are much faster and easier to produce and modify, which should now help to move this line of research along at a faster clip.

Indeed, two International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)-sponsored clinical trials of the mRNA version are already underway, one in the U.S. and the other in Rwanda and South Africa [4]. It looks like this team and others are now on a promising track toward following the basic science and developing a multistep HIV vaccination regimen that guides the immune response and its stepwise phases in the right directions.

As we look back on more than 40 years of HIV research, it’s heartening to witness the progress that continues toward ending the HIV epidemic. This includes the recent FDA approval of the drug Apretude, the first injectable treatment option for pre-exposure prevention of HIV, and the continued global commitment to produce a safe and effective vaccine.


[1] Global HIV & AIDS statistics fact sheet. UNAIDS.

[2] A first-in-human germline-targeting HIV nanoparticle vaccine induced broad and publicly targeted helper T cell responses. Cohen KW, De Rosa SC, Fulp WJ, deCamp AC, Fiore-Gartland A, Laufer DS, Koup RA, McDermott AB, Schief WR, McElrath MJ. Sci Transl Med. 2023 May 24;15(697):eadf3309.

[3] Vaccination induces HIV broadly neutralizing antibody precursors in humans. Leggat DJ, Cohen KW, Willis JR, Fulp WJ, deCamp AC, Koup RA, Laufer DS, McElrath MJ, McDermott AB, Schief WR. Science. 2022 Dec 2;378(6623):eadd6502.

[4] IAVI and Moderna launch first-in-Africa clinical trial of mRNA HIV vaccine development program . IAVI. May 18, 2022.


Progress Toward an Eventual HIV Vaccine, NIH Research Matters, Dec. 13, 2022.

NIH Statement on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 2023, Auchincloss H, Kapogiannis, B. May, 18, 2023.

HIV Vaccine Development (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH)

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) (New York, NY)

William Schief (Scripps Research, La Jolla, CA)

Julie McElrath (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, WA)

McElrath Lab (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, WA)

NIH Support: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day (June 5, 2023)


HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day (HLTSAD) on June 5th is a day to honor long-term survivors and raise awareness of their needs, issues, resilience, and experience. The 2023 theme is “Mobilize to Thrive: Prioritizing Quality of Life,” a call to action to prioritize and improve the Quality of Life for long-term survivors and Older Adults with HIV.

This observance day is led by Let’s Kick ASS—AIDS Survivor Syndrome (LKA):

“The selection of June 5 for this annual observance coincides with the anniversary of the first official reporting of what became known as the AIDS epidemic on June 5, 1981. When the CDC first reported on five cases of a mysterious disease affecting young gay men. June 5, 1981 is considered the start of the AIDS pandemic.

Today, HIV Long-Term Survivors (HLTS) represent a diverse group of people diagnosed with HIV before the advent of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy or HAART in 1996. We make up about 25% of all people living with HIV and AIDS. 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. That makes about 300,000 long-term survivors, defined as individuals who acquired HIV before 1996 and the introduction of HAART.

HLTS also includes people born with HIV or who acquired the virus as babies and are now in their 30s and 40s. HLTS are also those living with HIV and AIDS for over 25 years.

People living with HIV/AIDS deserve to age with dignity.”

Let’s Kick ASS identifies the following priorities for long-term survivors:

  • Make the quality of life for HIV long-term survivors and older adults aging with HIV and AIDS a true priority
  • Demand universal treatment access to help end the HIV epidemic, which is the message of the #JourneyTo400K campaign from the team that created Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (#UequalsU)
  • Prioritize culturally aware mental health care
  • Overcome the challenges of poverty and economic insecurity
  • Fight discrimination and invisibility against older adults with HIV and AIDS. It is called “ageism” and will not be condoned.

Care and Wellbeing Center

CWC Logo TransparentLearn more about older adults aging and HIV through our partner organization under the Training & Health Equity Collaborative, the Care and Wellbeing Center (CWC).

The Care and Wellbeing Center provides training and technical assistance to HIV and Aging service organizations across the Western United States, educating providers on how to best care for people living with HIV over 50. CWC’s overall goal is to improve access and quality of care for all people living with HIV over 50.

Stay up to date on CWC learning activities and resources!

Access Relevant HIV Learning Network Trainings:

HIV Learning Network Logo

HIV Learning Network – Geriatric Assessment for People with HIV, Part I: Multimorbidity & Polypharmacy

Description: According to the CDC, the number and percentage of people ≥50 years old with diagnosed HIV continues to increase, 38% in 2011– to 47% in 2015. In this session, Dr. Meredith Greene, MD will review the changes we as providers can expect in our patients with HIV, and review the essential steps and approach required to complete a geriatric assessment.  She will discuss the complexities of patients experiencing multiple morbidities, and how to manage treatment regimens of medications to treat them.

HIV Learning Network – Geriatric Assessment for People with HIV, Part II: Geriatric Syndromes

Desrciption: We invited Dr. Meredith Greene, MD, back to present part II of her June 2021 talk on geriatric assessments to review the IAS-USA 2020 Antiretroviral Drugs for Treatment and Prevention of HIV Infection in Adults 2020 Recommendations that added frailty to the list of recommended assessments to make for aging adults with HIV.

Resources from our Partners:

Happy Pride Month from Pacific AETC! (June 1st, 2023)

Pride Month GraphicJune 1st marks the start of Pride Month. Today, we recognize that the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately impacted by HIV, and that those across the spectrum may be less likely to seek health care because of discrimination.

For healthcare providers, working to reduce stigma, discussing sexuality and gender identity in an affirming and inclusive way, and informing patients of PrEP and other preventative measures against HIV is essential to the health and wellness of patients who identify as LGBTQ+. When we stand up to HIV stigma, we create a space where everyone can be their authentic selves.

Access the HIV Stigma & LBGT Communities HIV Learning Network (HIVLN) webinar by Shawn Demmons, MPH, Director, Pacific AETC – Bay Area, North & Central Coast below:

HIV Learning Network Logo



Access the following Pride Month resources from

Celebrating Pride, Together.

Cross-posted from

“Happy Pride Month! Pride season is upon us, and Pride events are full of opportunities to engage with the LGBTQ+ community and our communities at large to share important messages to reduce HIV stigma and address testing, prevention, and treatment. In celebrating Pride together, CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign has developed this Pride-in-a-Box guide with materials to help partners and organizations meet their audiences where they are. This comprehensive resource includes everything you need to run a successful Pride event from start to finish. It includes posters, palm cards, brochures, and more to use on-site. There are web banner ads and social media assets that you can use to “wrap around” your Together Pride events, as well as tips and tricks for pre-planning, day of, follow up, and evaluation of your Together Pride activation.

We encourage you to use our social media assets throughout Pride season for promotion and engagement. The materials address the full array of key HIV topics including HIV testing, condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV treatment, being undetectable, and reducing HIV stigma. To help you plan your activities, this guide is divided into sections with specific strategies for implementing the Together campaign for Pride season, gaining visibility at your local Pride festival, conducting post-Pride follow-up activities, and even suggestions and tips to help you evaluate the success of your efforts. It also includes ideas to help you host a virtual Together online Pride event when you can’t attend a festival or when circumstances don’t allow for in-person events.

A Pride event in your community is a prime time to highlight your HIV work. This guide will help you plan your virtual or in-person Together Pride activities with:

  • Specific strategies for gearing up for Pride season
  • Activating at your local Pride festival
  • What to do after your Pride activities
  • A set of digital and print materials to make your Together Pride event one to remember!

If you aren’t planning any events yourself but you plan to attend any Prides this year, keep your eyes open for Together Pride events happening across the country hosted by Together’s various PACT Partners and Community Ambassadors.

This Pride season let’s take pride in stopping HIV together.”