NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Friday is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to focus on increasing education, testing and community involvement.

Inside the New York Blood Center on the Upper East Side, you’ll find Project ACHIEVE — a family of team members and researchers dedicated to promoting HIV awareness and prevention research in New York City.

Debbie Lucy is the clinical site director.

“Our ultimate goal is to find a vaccine that’s going to prevent HIV infection,” Lucy told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.

They conduct cutting-edge research through clinical trials and studies, and they need more participants. They’re looking for people ages 18-60 who are HIV-negative and healthy.

“Primarily, we would love to have people of color to participate because people of color are normally under-represented in the clinical trials,” Lucy said.

Project ACHIEVE also works to lessen the stigma and misinformation surrounding HIV infection.

“People are still afraid to share a utensil with somebody who’s living with HIV. People talk about how they’re maybe scared to kiss somebody who’s living with HIV, and so we know that HIV is not transmitted that way,” said Jorge Soler, with Project ACHIEVE.

The team spends a lot of time in the community, trying to educate.

“There’s a lot of medical mistrust, particularly in communities of colors, so we try to bridge that gap a little bit,” said Major Nesby, with Project ACHIEVE.

The theme for this year’s Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is “We’re In This Together,” and those at Project ACHIEVE are hoping more people will come together to help with their work.

“To get cures and to get treatments, we need people. You really are helping save, potentially, you’re helping save your own life or someone else’s life in future generations,” Nesby said.

If you take part in a clinical trial, everything’s confidential and you will be compensated for your time and travel.

There are multiple trials and studies underway. Some involve blood work and others, just filling out a survey. Visit projectachieve.org for more information.

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