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David Ho and CBS on vaccine
Nov 29, 2004

Hi, Dr. Frascino:

In the CBS Cares website, David Ho says to the CBS interviewer that they have successfully tested an HIV vaccine that is partly effective in animals. Does that mean we are not far from a human vaccine and will the human vaccine help those with HIV not progress to AIDS?

Thank you.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Vaccine research continues to progress on many fronts; however, "an HIV vaccine that is partly effective in animals" is still light-years away (figuratively speaking) from helping an HIV-positive person not progress to AIDS. That doesn't mean we should not continue to be hopeful and optimistic. It's just the reality of where we are at this moment in time.

The most promising therapeutic vaccine (designed to treat HIV disease rather than trying to prevent it) research at the moment is being done by French researchers. They have reported initial success by suppressing the virus for up to a year in a small clinical trial (18 volunteers in Brazil). The technique is cumbersome and costly. Although I wouldn't call this experiment a breakthrough against AIDS, it certainly is a rare piece of good news in the field of vaccine research, which has had nothing but setbacks in recent years. This study remains very preliminary and any optimism must be tempered with caution.

Stay tuned. We'll keep you informed of advancements as they are made. Let's all plan to be here for the cure, OK?

Stay well. Stay hopeful.

Dr. Bob



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