Providence, RI – Reflecting a long-standing commitment to the youth in New England, The Miriam Hospital and Boston Celtics have teamed up to develop the Boston Celtics "Team Vaccinates Teens" program – the first program in the country that will test and explore vaccine delivery strategies to adolescents.
Highly safe and effective vaccines that can prevent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and other sexually transmitted diseases are only beneficial if they are successfully dispersed to the critical age group of adolescents. Through a $25,000 grant from The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, researchers at The Miriam Hospital will collaborate with organizations distributing the HPV vaccine to adolescents at high-risk for contracting the disease. The goal of "Team Vaccinates Teens" is for researchers to learn what structures are effective for engaging youth in an extended vaccination program, creating a model that will eventually allow for delivery of an HIV vaccine once one becomes available.
For more than ten years, The Miriam Hospital has been one of the 30 sites in the world that is researching and testing HIV vaccines for adults in the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). It is expected that HIV vaccine trials will be open to adolescents in approximately two to four years.
"The goal – which we believe it is achievable – is to license and deliver an effective HIV vaccine within ten years," said Michelle Lally, MD, medical director of the HIV vaccine trials at The Miriam Hospital. "However, if an effective HIV vaccine was approved tomorrow, we would not be able to successfully administer it to the youth in New England without a distribution plan in place. This generous grant allows us to start to test vaccine modalities among adolescents so when anticipated vaccines become available, we can efficiently deliver them to high-risk youth."
"The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation is proud to collaborate with The Miriam Hospital to create the first program in the nation to test vaccine delivery methods to high-risk youth," said Stephen Lewinstein, part-owner of the Boston Celtics. "With half of all diagnosed AIDS patients today under the age of 25, a safe and effective vaccine is the best way to control the spread of this deadly disease. Through the combined strengths of those involved in the 'Team Vaccinates Teen' program, we will ensure that when a HIV vaccine is approved it will make a significant and direct impact on infection rates in adolescents."
Although participation in adult HIV vaccine trials has increased in recent years, several misconceptions about the trials remain that researchers expect to hinder adolescent participation. Among the most popular inaccuracy is that a potential HIV vaccine can cause a participant to contract the disease, which is impossible. Since the adolescents targeted in "Team Vaccinates Teens" are also potential candidates for future HIV vaccine trials, this program will help researchers move toward implementation of an HIV vaccine program for high-risk youth that minimizes or eliminates barriers to participation.
The Miriam Hospital (www.miriamhospital.org) is a not-for-profit hospital affiliated with Brown Medical School and a founding member of the Lifespan health system. Founded in 1926 by the Miriam Hospital Women's Association, The Miriam offers particular expertise in cardiology; oncology; and HIV/AIDS treatment, research and prevention. Nationally recognized as a top hospital in cardiovascular care, The Miriam is home to the only Women's Cardiac Center in the region and JCAHO certified Primary Stroke Center. The Miriam Hospital has been awarded Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services three times and is committed to excellence in patient care, research and medical education.
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