Vaccine Trials Increase AIDS Risk

March 24, 2008 10:07 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Washington spends $500 million a year on AIDS research, but after two decades of trying to develop a vaccine, scientists are going back to the drawing board.

30-Second Summary

AIDS researchers halted what had been considered the two most promising vaccine trials in September, after the chances of AIDS infection increased twofold among volunteers who received the vaccines, the New England Journal of Medicine has reported.

Seven other trials of similar AIDS vaccines “have either been stopped or put off indefinitely,” according to The Washington Post.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “We might not ever get a vaccine for HIV.”

The National Institutes of Health has scheduled a meeting to consider the future course of AIDS research, and researchers have widely divergent views.

Ronald C. Desrosiers, a Harvard University geneticist, says the NIH should move away from human vaccine trials and put funding toward more basic research.

Virologist Nathan Wolfe advocates a different approach to world epidemics such as AIDS, catch them early by researching the “low-level interchange of viruses between species,” reports The Economist.

An editorial in The Washington Post also focuses on prevention, but does so by promoting efforts to understand and address the socioeconomic conditions that enable the disease to spread.

Although recent vaccine tests have been disappointing, they may spur new approaches such as seeking out different viral strains that enhance natural immunity.

Scientists struggled to find a polio vaccine in the early 1900s, but after discovering that there were three different strains of polio virus, Dr. Jonas Salk was able to produce a vaccine in 1952.

Headline Links: Vaccine trials increased possibility of HIV infection

Analysis: The future of AIDS research

Dim outlook for a vaccine despite two decades of effort
Concerns about human trials of AIDs vaccine
Preventing epidemics before they start
‘An Epidemic No One Wants to Talk About’

Related Links: New vaccine approaches and Jonas Salk’s quest to prevent polio

Recent AIDS study shows promise
Polio and the Salk vaccine

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