|A Media Handbook for HIV Vaccine Trials for Africa (UNAIDS, 2001, 45 p.)|
|Section 5 - Identifying your public and partners|
In most countries the success of vaccine development depends on the full understanding/cooperation of those who are charged with advising government on health and science matters. Many of these officials are found at the ministry of health, the parliament or equivalent institutions. Because they are primarily charged with advising government on health policy, any negative reaction to vaccine preparedness and trials will impede the necessary government approval which is needed before a trial begins.
Conversely, the proper tone for social acceptance may be set if, propelled by positive advice and guided by sound science, government makes a policy statement on impending vaccine development/trial, focussing on its potential and safety and urging public support and cooperation for it.
Partnership with policy makers will prove essential in a situation where an influential, well-trained scientist/researcher is disseminating falsehoods and/or misleading remarks about HIV/AIDS, vaccine development and trials.
Government, through regulatory bodies, is usually able to offer credible counterpoints as well as redirect the erring scientist.12
12 For instance, regulatory bodies can provide the facts about HIV/AIDS vaccine trials and point out the errors/mistakes of the scientist in question. Where the action of the scientist creates panic in the population, government agencies can apply the relevant local laws against disturbance of public peace.
The list above is not exhaustive and may be adapted to suit the particular situation. It is important that your Contact List defines which organizations are of primary and which of secondary importance, especially given your (often limited) available resources.