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So This AIDS Vaccine Actually … Works?


So there was this bit of good news about the discovery of antibodies that can prevent HIV from multiplying, and now another breakthrough: Researchers in Thailand say their vaccine reduced the risk of contracting HIV by a third. “The study was carried out by the US army and the Thai government over seven years on volunteers – all HIV-negative men and women aged between 18 and 30 – in parts of Thailand. The vaccine was a combination of two older vaccines that on their own had not cut infection rates. Half of the volunteers were given the vaccine, while the other half were given a placebo – and all were given counselling on HIV/Aids prevention. Participants were tested for HIV infection every six months for three years. The results found that the chances of catching HIV were 31.2% less for those who had taken the vaccine – with 74 people who did not get the vaccine infected and 51 of the vaccinated group infected.” And wouldn’t you know it: The U.S. Army was behind the research.

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  • scott ny'er

    I don’t know much about statistics but to the untrained eye there’s not a huge difference between 74 and 51. I know that it’s a difference and because of HIV’s past, that is a significant find, but I’m not sure how significant this is. I’m hoping it’s the cusp of something great for HIV vaccines and such tho.

  • ummmm

    wow, the results are being blown way out of proportion! now we can expect hiv to rise again among gay men because of all this news insinuating its nothing to worry about anymore.


  • Robert

    It’s an HIV vaccine; not an AIDS vaccine and yes… there really is a difference Queerty. You would think a gay blog would be more aware of these things.

  • Alexander

    This is… a step. An important one, and one in the right direction, but a step nonetheless. There’s a huge possibility that if this ever went to market, HIV rates would skyrocket, as it would be marketed and hyped beyond what it can actually do. But that won’t happen. I just hope they build on this success, and don’t let it be a flash-in-the-pan like all the other “breakthroughs” HIV research has had.

  • Bill Perdue

    There was a difference in infection rates but is it statistically significant? I’m asking.

    Total tested – 16,395

    Vaccine Cohort – 8197 Placebo Cohort – 8198
    Positive – 51 Positive – 74

    It seems like an awfully slim difference to me. 74-51 = a variance of 23 out of 16,395.

    If 125 out of 16,395 got HIV then I guess it’s safe to say that Thailand is not a christer infested nation. Keep up the good work; safe sex as opposed to superstition and backwardness are the key to survival.

  • Bill Perdue

    I’d also want to know what percentage of those tested were sex workers.

  • Roy Pyatt

    As a participant in the first VaxGen study I encourage anyone who is capable to volunteer for these studies.
    It is humbling to know that even after all this time the research I participated in is still making differences in the HIV/AIDES pandemic.

  • B

    scott ny’er said, “I don’t know much about statistics but to the untrained eye there’s not a huge difference between 74 and 51.”

    The infections are random, independent events, so the counts (74 and 51) are Poisson distributed. the difference is 23 and the error (standard deviation) is 11.3, about half the difference. With the number in each group the difference should have a normal distribution. There’s a 2.3 percent chance that the vaccine didn’t work (did nothing or made it worse).

    It’s enough to justify wider-scale tests – you don’t want to do those until you have something that looks promising.

  • scott ny'er

    @B: Well thank you. But… ummm… what I just read, came thru like white noise. LOL. I seriously didn’t understand that. Sorry, I’m just not bright enough I guess. LOL.

    Were you saying that it is significant or it is not significant?

  • B

    scott ny’er asked “Were you saying that it is significant or it is not significant?”

    There’s a 2.3 percent chance that the vaccine didn’t work at all.
    I.e, slightly over 97% chance that the results are significant.
    That’s good enough to justify further work, but not good enough to bet your life on.

    In statistics, the term “significant” has a level associated with it telling you the chance that you were fooled.

  • hyhybt

    @B: For that matter, even if the study could be definitely 100% accurate, 31% isn’t nearly good enough to bet your life on. Still, it’s better than they’ve ever managed before.

  • LoboSolo

    The Army has long been involved in working on vaccines … eg Leonard Wood and yellow fever.

  • bystander

    If you do enough studies eventually you will get a statistical blip, that’s what this sounds like. I hope its something more, but there is a certain amount of chance involved with whether someone in either the experimental or control groups gets infected, we use large sample to minimize that, but with the number of vaccine trials done, we were bound to eventually get something that looks significant but really is just a blip. The fact these vaccines didn’t work apart doesn’t really lend much hope to the results.

  • Ben recently conducted a national study among 305 viewers of a news clip which featured a new AIDS vaccine. Results found that the majority of younger Americans (67% of 18-24-year-olds and 57% of 25-34-year-olds) indicated that they would be likely to get the AIDS vaccine if it became available in the U.S. The study also revealed that 65% of respondents are confident that the AIDS vaccine will be implemented worldwide More in depth results can be seen at: Thanks,

  • doubter

    I’m somewhat comforted that they had a control group…

    seems that the thing to do these days is shoddy science

    after “early promising results” almost all HIV drug trials unblind both groups and administer the drugs to each. they say it’s out of “ethics” but if a drug doesn’t really work then you’ve just pumped poison into not only volunteers, but people actually PAYING for the drug. how ethical is that?

    there’s a lot of bs that goes on in HIV research.

    glad that there was a control group in this study.

  • djm

    I’m not so sure about this. Yes, I’d definitely get this vaccine if it became available. But would I rely on it? There’s still a significant chance of infection over condoms.

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