Saturday, September 22, 2007

HIV/AIDS: A disappointment...

Looks like the newest round of AIDS vaccines has failed. Sigh. This was one of the ones that we were really counting on as it held so much promise, but 24/741 of those receiving the vaccine became infected (3.2% -- please note, they don't become infected by the vaccine, they are not asked to change their lifestyle while on the vaccine) versus 21/762 (2.75%). Statistically insignificant difference.

Ironically, though, I wonder if the slight uptick in percentage has anything to do with people thinking they are safer after having taken it, but I'm not sure if, with such a small sample size, it really matters at all.

There was hope, btw, that even if it did not actually block HIV, that it would slow down the process of infection, making it easier for the body to fight off before seroconversion. This using.. get this... the common cold as the delivery agent???

From the article in the LATimes:

Michael Zwick, an HIV researcher at Scripps Research Institute, said the vaccine's failure was unfortunate. But he said it was too soon to know whether other vaccines using the same strategy would also fail.

"It's par for the course in the HIV field," he said of the Merck result.

The volunteers in the experiment were all free of HIV at the start. But they were at high risk for getting the virus: Most were homosexual men or female sex workers. They were all repeatedly counseled about how to reduce their risk of HIV infections, according to Merck.

In a statement, the NIH said a data safety monitoring board, reviewing interim results, found the vaccine did not prevent HIV infection. Nor did it limit the severity of the disease "in those who become infected with HIV as a result of their own behaviors that exposed them to the virus" -- another goal of the study.

Also, here's the article from (which clued me in this morning).

I think it's sad that this is considered "par for the course" in this line of work. It's almost... well, disappointing.

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