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National News

Many Think AIDS Vaccine Here, But Kept Secret

May 29, 2003

A full 20 percent of American adults mistakenly believe that a vaccine for HIV/AIDS already exists but is being kept from the public, according to a new government study. Ignorance of the slow rate of progress in the development of an AIDS vaccine is rampant among US citizens, the survey finds, and is especially high among black and Hispanic populations, which have been hit hardest by the disease. The survey of 3,500 individuals was conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said his agency plans to boost education efforts "to help correct misconceptions and advance public understanding of ongoing and future HIV vaccine research."

According to the survey, 84 percent of Americans rate HIV/AIDS vaccine research as either "extremely" or "very" important. This number is even higher among minority populations at highest risk for HIV, with 96 percent of black Americans and 94 percent of Hispanics agreeing that the quest for a vaccine is of paramount importance. However, many also believe that a vaccine already exists but is being kept "secret" from patients and the general public. One in five Americans subscribe to this view, with the number rising to 28 percent and 48 percent of Hispanic and African-American respondents, respectively.

Among other survey findings:

  • 42 percent of those interviewed did not know that vaccines require any testing on human volunteers before being made available to the public.
  • Nearly a third erroneously believed that prospective vaccines could cause HIV in human test subjects, while 44 percent were unsure about such dangers. Such misconceptions could hamper recruitment of volunteers for clinical trials, experts say.

"HIV vaccine research is our best hope, along with other prevention and treatment efforts, to slow the spread of HIV," Fauci stressed in a NIAID statement. Promising vaccine studies are underway in over 60 research centers in the United States alone, with more than 12,000 individuals participating in trials worldwide, according to NIAID.

Back to other CDC news for May 29, 2003

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Adapted from:
Reuters Health

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.