In 1984, only a few years after the first verifiable identification of AIDS, U.S. Secretary of

Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler declared that a vaccine for the deadly HIV virus, the virus that causes AIDS, would be widely available within 2 years.

What went wrong? This year, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis, more than 33 million people worldwide are infected. Since the 1980's, AIDS has become a global pandemic, revealing debilitating social stigmas, orphaning children, and destroying developing economies. And thus we spend almost $1 billion each year in pursuit of a vaccine that can prevent HIV-with little progress. But, why? How can we dedicate vast resources, time and brainpower with such a modest result?

This four-part blog series will try to answer those questions. We will delve into some of the scientific and social challenges to developing the vaccine, take a look at the milestones of the past decades, and come face-to-face with scientists and people who inspire the optimism driving the continuous search to prevent the seemingly unpreventable.

Part 1: Meeting the Challenge

Part 2: Where Are We Now?

Part 3: Life of a Trial

Part 4: The Future and You

This post is part of the four-part blog series Preventing the Unpreventable: The Search for the HIV Vaccine written by Devon Dickau, who interned at NOVA in the spring of 2011 before graduating from the Harvard Graduate School of Education's program in Technology, Innovation and Education.

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