Smallpox Vaccine May Protect Against HIV Infection, Small Study Shows
September 12, 2003
Smallpox vaccinations might also offer protection against HIV infection, according to the results of a small study conducted by George Mason University's National Center for Biodefense researchers, the AP/Newport News Daily Press reports. Researchers based their study on the theory that the rapid spread of HIV in central Africa in the 1980s coincided with the widespread discontinuance of smallpox vaccinations when smallpox was believed to be eliminated. National Center for Biodefense Director Ken Alibek and GMU researcher Raymond Weinstein studied blood samples from 10 people who received the smallpox vaccination and 10 who did not. HIV was added to each of the blood samples (Barakat, AP/Newport News Daily Press, 9/11). According to the researchers, HIV either did not grow or grew at "substantially reduced levels" in the cells of blood samples taken from individuals who had received the smallpox vaccination, according to a Center for Biodefense release (National Center for Biodefense release, 9/11). Researchers observed an average four-fold decrease in infectivity in the blood cells of the vaccinated individuals, compared with the cells from people who had not been vaccinated, according to Jerry Coughter, director of life science management at GMU, Reuters reports (Fox, Reuters, 9/11). Despite the relatively small number of subjects involved, researchers found a statistically significant difference in resistance to HIV infection between the blood cells from the vaccinated subjects and the blood cells from the unvaccinated subjects (National Center for Biodefense release, 9/11).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.