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Tiffany: Could I be the first?

The first ones are the pioneers/ visionaries who often see a world that is different from the one we have now. The firsts are those who often going against the grain and are marked for scrutiny like no other. I
would love to believe that such a spirit exists for me, in me. But as I write this entry I am not so sure.  As someone who works in HIV vaccine research I certainly would like to believe that the pioneering spirit exists after all that is what I ask people to do when they volunteer to participate; but as I read the recent article in the Nation about the first, 72 Kenyan babies participating in HIV vaccine research I wasn’t so
sure. In my mind’s eye I envision a world without HIV and I know that involves volunteers participating in research initiatives, it involves better community education and prevention strategies, it involves better treatment options.  But as I think about starting my own family and what precautionary steps I would take to protect me, my husband, any offspring from my union, I am forced to ask myself would I enroll my child in such a study.  The answer seems like it would be a no. Not because I believe that my offspring would be infected from participating in a study. I know HIV vaccines will not infect a person with HIV. I guess I am selfish because I don’t believe we are there yet, that the science is there yet. I think the science that is learned from these pioneering 72 babies will help push the science forward but won’t be THE ANSWER and had I allowed my child to participate would I have ended the possibility for him or
her to receive the effective vaccine once it became available. I am not sure I can be the first one to sign up. But maybe I should be the first one to say thank you to those brave 72 families who are helping to find a safe and effective HIV vaccine for future generations.

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