HIV Vaccine Reseach Moving Slowly
The outlook for an effective HIV vaccine remains bleak, even as several large-scale trials are due to report their results in 2008. Merck, Aventis, and VaxGen are all underway with vaccine trials, but scientists are hoping only that the results reduce infections "a little", at least providing a springboard to future research. Highest hopes are pinned on the Merck study, which if even a tiny bit effective, will at least "validate the animal models".
UPDATE: An HIV vaccine researcher responds:
Joe, I'm part of an international group of scientists and community members (funded by the NIH) who are testing HIV vaccines with the goal of getting a safe, effective HIV vaccine into the world as quickly as possible. I don't think the field is as bleak as some think. The two leading vaccines, made by Merck and the NIH's Vaccine Research Center appear to be safe, well-tolerated (few side effects), and create strong immune responses in study volunteers. What we don't know yet is whether these vaccines will protect people, either by preventing infection or keeping them healthy even if they later become infected through sex and drug use.
If you want more information on these trials, you can go to stepstudies.org or to the HIV Vaccine Trials Network website. It's great that you are getting the word out that HIV vaccines are being tested and that there is NO HIV IN THE VACCINES, so they can't infect anyone. We need people to get involved to move this field forward as quickly as we can!
UPDATE II: An NYU / Merck vaccine administrator responds:
Joe, Great post and update on the HIV vaccine trials. For anyone who's interested, we're running the Merck vaccine trial at NYU and they're always looking for new people interested. The group is doing really interesting outreach including canvasing bathhouses. Anyone interested can give me a call at my office or go to our website site for more information: www.med.nyu.edu/oct. Carry on the good work, big guy.
JMG: Thanks very much to Susan and Beau!