HIV Vaccine Trial Gone Wrong
Via the Washington Post, HIV vaccine trial volunteers in South Africa are being warned that the experimental vaccine may make them *more* likely to contract HIV.
The move stems from the discovery last month that an AIDS vaccine developed by Merck & Co. might have led to more infections than it averted among study subjects in the United States and other countries. Among those who received at least two doses of the vaccine, 19 contracted HIV compared with 11 of those given placebos.
Researchers shut down the trial on the grounds that the vaccine was proving ineffective, but the surge in infection among vaccinated volunteers prompted intense scientific debate and anxiety among researchers. The failure of the Merck vaccine is the latest in a series of disappointing results for research projects aimed at curbing AIDS.
An oversight board for the trial’s U.S. activities has not decided whether to tell all participants if they received the vaccine or a placebo, and will meet on November 7th to discuss the issue.