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April 18, 2007

Symposium on HIV and Hepatitis Vaccines To Be Held on May 10

Distinguished health and medical experts will participate in a symposium addressing critical issues on the challenges of developing an HIV vaccine and ensuring the eradication of Hepatitis B, on May 10 at the Library of Congress.

The symposium, titled "Combating HIV and Hepatitis B," will coincide with World AIDS Vaccine Day on May 18 and Hepatitis Awareness Week, May 7-11.

The program will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The experts will focus on HIV in the morning and on Hepatitis B at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required. The symposium will be cybercast live at www.loc.gov.

The Kluge Center is holding the symposium in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF), with support from the Dana Foundation.

The development of an HIV vaccine is one of the most important global public health priorities, according to experts. Nearly three million deaths from AIDS occurred in 2006 alone. Each day, nearly 12,000 individuals become infected with HIV, with 95 percent of the cases in the developing world. The development of a safe and effective AIDS vaccine is the world’s best hope to end the pandemic.

Although the number of people chronically infected with Hepatitis B worldwide (300 million) is not challenged, HBF has suggested that the number of people in the United States who are chronically infected has been significantly underestimated. There is a safe and effective vaccine to immunize people against Hepatitis B, but HBF suggests that vaccine-induced "escape mutants" are emerging to threaten current worldwide control strategy.

The symposium was organized by Raymond Dwek, Oxford University professor and head of the glycobiology department. Dwek is the holder of the Chair of Technology and Society at the Kluge Center.

In addition to Dwek, participants include: Seth Berkley, IAVI; Timothy M. Block, HBF and Drexel College of Medicine; Baruch S. Blumberg, Fox Chase Cancer Center; Dennis Burton, Scripps Research Institute; Paul F. Coleman, Abbott Laboratories; Molly Conti, HBF; Alison Evans, HBF and Drexel University School of Public Health; Gary J. Nabel, National Institutes of Health; David Thomas, Johns Hopkins University; Bruce Walker, Harvard Medical School; and John Ward, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library’s resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/kluge.

The mission of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive AIDS vaccines for use throughout the world. For more information about IAVI, visit www.iavi.org.

The Hepatitis B Foundation of America (HBF) works on important state and federal initiatives that advance hepatitis B as an urgent public health priority. For more information about HBF, visit www.hepb.org.

The Dana Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation with principal interests in brain science, immunology and arts education. It was founded in 1950 by Charles A. Dana, a New York state legislator, industrialist and philanthropist. For more information, visit www.dana.org.

After May 10, the webcast can be seen at http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc.

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PR 07-086
04/18/07
ISSN 0731-3527

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