August 10, 2010
Even a 100 percent effective HIV vaccine would likely be attractive to only three-quarters of Canadians, suggest the results of a recent study by University of Toronto researchers. One reason for rebuffing a vaccine, said a study co-author, is that many people believe it would be irrelevant to them.
Peter Newman, a professor of social work at the university, and Carmen Logie, a doctoral candidate, analyzed 20 previously published studies that addressed the acceptability of potential HIV vaccines. The authors noted the role played by the efficacy of a potential vaccine and whether the respondent felt part of a risk group.
"When people felt that they did not belong to a risk group it was significantly related to lower acceptability [of the vaccine], while people who perceived that they were at risk were positively associated with the vaccine acceptability," Logie said.
Newman speculated that some people may fear a vaccine could transmit HIV rather than protect against it. "The bottom line is it's totally impossible for anyone to get HIV with a vaccine," he said. "There would not be live HIV in the vaccine."
To avoid stigma, a potential HIV vaccine should be available widely through physicians' offices rather that just HIV clinics, Newman said.
The authors concluded that any HIV vaccine should be introduced with concurrent educational efforts that explain its risks and benefits, particularly in the case of vaccines that are only partially effective. In addition, public health officials should consider subsidizing the cost of any HIV vaccine as well as working to ensure it is easily accessible.
The full report, "HIV Vaccine Acceptability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," was published in the journal AIDS (2010;24(11):1749-1756).