Unfortunately there has been another major setback to the decades-long quest to develop an HIV vaccine. The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has announced that it is discontinuing a key vaccine trial.
The experimental vaccine did not prevent HIV infection in some volunteers .... and it made them more likely to contract the human immunodeficiency virus than those who were given a placebo, reports CBS News.
The study, called the "HVTN 505 clinical trial," kicked off in 2009 and had enrolled about 2,500 people in 19 cities. Participants were all men who have sex with men and transgender people who have sex with men. Half received an experimental vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health, and half received dummy, or placebo, shots.
A scheduled safety review on April 22 found that slightly more volunteers who had received the vaccine later became infected with HIV. Overall, 41 cases of HIV infection occurred in the volunteers who received the experimental vaccine and 30 cases of HIV infection occurred among the recipients who received the dummy injection. The safety review also showed the vaccine failed to reduce the amount of HIV virus in the blood, called the "viral load," in people who had been diagnosed with HIV and were tracked for 20 weeks of follow-up.
Recent years have seen many well-publicized advances in biomedical prevention technologies such as PrEP, PEP and microbicides. But a preventive HIV/AIDS vaccine remains "the goal standard" among HIV/AIDS researchers and the quest has been elusive. At least four major vaccine trials have failed over the developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine have failed since 1983, when human immunodeficiency virus was first identified.
So far, there has been only one modest success: "Announced in September 2009, the U.S.-funded "Thai Prime Boost" trial — the world's largest, with 16,000 volunteers — combined two previously unsuccessful vaccines. But while a medical milestone—the vaccine reduced new infections by almost a third—it was not effective enough."
The development of a preventive HIV vaccine could become a life-saving game-changer across Africa, the Caribbean and Black America where the epidemic has had a devastating impact. The vaccine could become especially critically to Black gay and bisexual men, we reported for EBONY from AIDS 2012.
Blacks represent only 12% of the nation’s population but account for nearly half—some 44%—of all new HIV infections, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black gay men have become the ‘epicenter’ of the domestic and global epidemic.
The crisis is so severe in some American cities that "one in two Black men who have sex with other men are HIV positive," the report adds. The trend has been particularly “alarming” among young Black gay men aged 13 to 19, according to the CDC. New infections have increased by almost half between 2006 and 2009.
As a final thought: Many Black and Latino Americans already have a substantial degree of cultural skepticism toward vaccines. Much of this is based in some historical fact, such as unethical medical studies, forced sterilizations, etc. These study results only add fuel to the confidence gap.
You May Have Missed:
First HIV Vaccine Called "Milestone"
"Progress in the Fight Against AIDS and HIV [The Root]
"The State of HIV/AIDS in Black America [EBONY]
Black Gay Men "World's Highest" Risk of HIV [EBONY]