Rochester's Research History

One of the First

The Rochester Victory Alliance was one of the first research sites in the U.S. to conduct HIV vaccine studies. Our long-term experience has allowed us to offer guidance to other international HIV studies. We’ve worked with sites around the world. 

The University of Rochester’s HIV Vaccine Trials Unit (HVTU) is a committed group of experienced, local pioneers passionate about developing an HIV vaccine.

We work closely with the Rochester community to inform and educate. We participate in many events throughout the year to meet folks interested in our work. Check out our events calendar to see what we’re up to.

Part of a Global Mission

The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) is an international collaboration of scientists and educators searching for an effective and safe HIV vaccine. The HVTN’s mission is to facilitate the process of testing preventive vaccines against HIV/AIDS.

In the past 25 years, more than 30,000 HIV negative volunteers have taken part in HIV vaccine studies worldwide. A person cannot get HIV from the HIV vaccines used in the study. This is simply because the vaccines do not contain actual HIV.

Millions around the world still suffer and the fight is far from over.

From the trials network:

Our staff and volunteers around the globe work to help community members understand the general science of HIV/AIDS vaccines, as well as research methods and clinical trial processes.

Through our efforts, we hope to dispel some of the misconceptions that surround HIV/AIDS and human subject studies. Support for the HVTN comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The Network and NIAID have a close, cooperative working relationship, with shared attention to the intellectual and scientific issues.

The Network’s HIV Vaccine Trial Units are located at leading research institutions in over 30 cities on five continents. Internationally renowned HIV vaccine and prevention researchers lead the units. The Network’s headquarters are located at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.

View a map of all the HVTN sites and partners.

How Vaccines Work

More than 200 years ago, Edward Jenner, a country physician practicing in England, noted that milkmaids rarely suffered from pox, a disease that was known to kill 40% of those who contracted it. The milkmaids often did get cowpox, a related but far less serious disease, and those who did never became ill with smallpox. In an experiment that was to prove his theory, Jenner took a few drops of fluid from the skin sore of a woman who had cowpox and injected the fluid into the arm of a healthy young boy who had never had cowpox or smallpox. Six weeks later, Jenner injected the boy with fluid from a smallpox sore, but the boy remained healthy. This was the beginning of the first vaccine study. Fortunately due to science advances research is done differently. There are measures in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of any research participant.

Today, things are much different. Vaccine volunteers are just that–totally voluntary–and go through an Informed Consent process. They are advised of the required visits to the clinic and are educated in advance about every detail of the study. No living or killed virus or pieces of virus are used in HIV vaccine studies. Modern biotechnology allows us to create synthetic vaccines that trick the immune system into thinking it is seeing the actual virus, when it is really just a cleverly disguised protein.


Do good, feel good! Learn more about joining a study:

to all the volunteers dedicated to ending the spread of HIV.

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601 Elmwood Ave Box 689,
Rochester, NY 14642

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