Thursday, September 24, 2009

Researchers are optimistic with experimental HIV/AIDS vaccine

Researchers are hopeful for the first time in over twenty years in their quest for an HIV/AIDS vaccine. The Washington Post reports:

An experiment in Thailand involving 16,000 men and women has demonstrated for the first time a small but measurable protective effect of an AIDS vaccine.

The vaccine, a complicated mixture of six "prime" and "booster" shots, reduced a person's risk of becoming infected by about one-third compared to people getting placebo injections.

The results were barely significant on statistical grounds, perplexing for scientific reasons and unanticipated by most researchers. Nevertheless, the first positive results for an AIDS vaccine after two decades of experimentation was being called a milestone. 

"Conceptually, we now know a vaccine is possible," said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which paid for most of the six-year trial. "Whether the vaccine is going to look anything like this one I don't know. But at least we know it can be done."

The vaccine is not licensed or being produced in large amounts. It is unlikely -- but not impossible -- that any country would consider it effective enough to be used as a public health measure against HIV.

Instead, the chief usefulness of the so-called ALVAC-AIDSVAX vaccine is likely to be what it can teach virologists about what is happening in the immune system when a person is even somewhat protected from HIV.

"We really need to go through the data to see if there are effects here that are potentially useful," said Col. Jerome Kim, a physician involved in the study, which was run by the U.S. Army, the National Institutes of Health, and Thailand's Ministry of Public Health.
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  1. the possibility that there has been a huge breakthrough in finding an AIDS vaccination is great... though the way they went about testing this cure seems a sketchy

  2. When I first read this I wondered who the test subjects were and how the testing is done. How do you convince someone to subject themselves to deliberate exposure to HIV on the off chance the vaccine works? What's the follow up care? Why is it being done in a third world county? Couldn't find anything more online. I'll share it if do.


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