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National News

A Worthwhile Test of Hope; Despite Negative Results, Subjects Are Glad They Volunteered for AIDS Vaccine Trial

March 12, 2003

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

VaxGen announced last month that the first HIV vaccine to be tested in a sizeable group of people was not effective at lowering the infection rate. The 5,400 volunteers, mostly HIV-negative gay men, spent three years getting injections, having blood drawn, and giving extensive interviews about their sex lives. They say their time, hope and blood were not wasted: that researchers will continue to learn from the trial. But they had hoped for a successful vaccine.

At the University of California-Irvine, 90 HIV-negative people who enrolled in the trial stayed with it to the end. All the men remain HIV-negative. Nationwide, 90 percent of the participants stuck with the trial for the full three years. This dedication amazed researchers, said Jim Key, director of communications for VaxGen. "The feeling among the company was one of excitement," he said. "The volunteers were advancing HIV vaccine research."

Committing to the trial involved sacrifice. In July 2001, study participant Rino Zaccuri, 39, moved to Sydney, Australia, a 14-hour plane ride from UCI. So for the remaining year of his participation, he worked his injections and blood work around business trips back to California. "How are they going to have complete data if people dropped out?" he asked. "I wanted to do my part."

"Every time I'd go in there, there was always a really great energy," said trial volunteer Dave Greenhalgh. "I knew that even if it didn't come out as the dream drug, they were going to learn a lot of information from it," he said. "When I heard [the results] on the news the other day, I think I was disappointed, and yet I still felt like it was all worth it."

Back to other CDC news for March 12, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Orange County Register
03.02.03; Mayrav Saar

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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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.
 
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