Thursday, April 24, 2008

Giving up on the AIDS vaccine?

This is a rather discouraging and depressing story. I'm not sure I understand the idea of giving up because something hasn't been found yet. It seems as if that is precisely the reason research should continue. People have been searching for a cure for cancer for decades but haven't given up merely because one hasn't been found yet. Not every attempt is going to be successful but that doesn't mean that the next attempt won't be. The HIV researchers where I work decided to use the failure of the Merck study as motivation to continue their efforts, not as an excuse to quit.

Incidentally, a friend of mine was involved in the Merck study in SFO and found out after it was shut down that he was given the vaccine instead of the placebo. He was counseled after the study ended that he is now more at risk of contracting HIV than before. When he and I talked about it he said that even knowing what he knows now about the increased risk he's at, he would do the same thing again.

I've said for years that I'll be surprised if there ever is a "cure" for HIV/AIDS. Years ago it stopped being a disease to a lot of people and became an industry. The amounts of money involved in research and being given to the pharma companies is far too great to suddenly have it shut down if a cure is found. I suppose it's that way for many illnesses these days...

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