US HIV Vaccine trials end in failure

HIV treatment dead end: US vaccine failures prompt end to trials

Published time: April 26, 2013 09:07

US authorities have announced the cessation of clinical trials in the US after a vaccine designed to prevent the spread of HIV was revealed to be ineffective. The four-year trial failed to stop or reduce HIV infection in some 2,500 participants.

The trials, carried out by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), began in August 2009 and mark the latest in a series of failed attempts at tackling the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

Exactly 2,504 volunteers across 19 US cities – all gay men or transgendered people who had sex with men – participated in the massive federally backed study, which hoped to determine whether a vaccine program could prevent HIV infections or reduce the ‘viral load’: The amount of virus in the blood of infected patients.

The HVTN 505 vaccine was given to 1,250 participants, with 1,244 receiving a placebo. The volunteers were initially administered a series of three immunizations over the course of eight weeks. These DNA-based vaccines, designed to alert the immune system, were then followed up with a single ‘booster’ injection in the 24th week.

Results were analyzed on Monday, prompting a supervisory panel to swiftly halt the program. Forty-one infections were detected among those who had received the real vaccine, versus 30 in the placebo group.

Vaccines also failed to reduce infection levels in the blood. “The DSMB found that the vaccine failed to reduce viral load among volunteers who acquired HIV infection at least 28 weeks after entering the study,” the NIAID said in a statement released on Thursday.

Additionally, an increase in HIV acquisition was noted among volunteers in the ‘investigational’ vaccine group, as opposed to the placebo group. However, the NIAID said that this increase was “non-statistically significant.”

The institute went on to say that the results of the study are being scrutinized to determine both why the vaccine did not work and why there was an increase in HIV acquisition.

The search for an HIV cure has plagued scientists since the disease was first identified in the early 1980s. Some 34 million people are infected with the virus worldwide, including 3.4 million children.

In March, a baby girl born with HIV became the first person to be ‘functionally cured’ using conventional drugs, leading to speculation that the virus might be treatable in children.

“This trial has provided a clear, swift answer about a specific vaccine strategy. It’s not the answer we hoped for, but the search doesn’t end here,” Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, said in a statement.


  • theunhivedmind

    House of Numbers

    What is HIV? What is AIDS? What is being done to cure it? These questions sent Canadian filmmaker Brent Leung on a worldwide journey, from the highest echelons of the medical research establishment to the slums of South Africa, where death and disease are the order of the day. In this up-to-the-minute documentary, he observes that although AIDS has been front-page news for over 29 years, it is barely understood. Despite the great effort, time, and money spent, no cure is in sight.

    Born in 1980 (on the cusp of the epidemic), Leung reveals a research establishment in disarray, and health policy gone tragically off course. Gaining access to a remarkable array of the most prominent and influential figures in the field — among them the co-discoverers of HIV, presidential advisors, Nobel laureates, and the Executive Director of UNAIDS, as well as survivors and activists — his restrained approach yields surprising revelations and stunning contradictions.

    The HIV/AIDS story is being rewritten, and this is the first film to present the uncensored POVs of virtually all the major players — in their own settings, in their own words. It rocks the foundation upon which all conventional wisdom regarding HIV/AIDS is based. If, as South African health advocate Pephsile Maseko remarks, “this is the beginning of a war…a war to reclaim our health,” then House of Numbers could well be the opening salvo in the battle to bring sanity and clarity to an epidemic clearly gone away.

    More info at:
    More info at:

Leave a Reply