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The Thailand Ministry of Public Health conducted this trial, which used vaccines made from strains of HIV common in Thailand. They are ALVAC, made by Sanofi Pasteur, and AIDSVAX, originally developed by VaxGen Inc. and now held by the nonprofit Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases. The vaccines are not made from whole virus and cannot cause HIV infection.
The combo was tested in HIV-negative Thai men and women ages 18 to 30 at average risk of becoming infected. Half received four doses of ALVAC and two of AIDSVAX over six months; the rest received dummy shots. All were given condoms and counseling, and were followed for three years after vaccination ended.
New infections occurred in 51 of the 8,197 given vaccine and in 74 of the 8,198 who received dummy shots. That worked out to a 31 percent lower risk of infection for the vaccine group.
In a smaller analysis of just the 12,452 participants who received all six shots exactly on schedule, there were 86 infections -- 36 in the vaccine group and 50 in those given dummy shots.
Though not a statistically significant trend, the vaccine appeared nearly twice as effective among those at low or moderate risk of becoming infected, versus people who share needles, have contact with prostitutes or engage in other risky behaviors.
"Perhaps the requirements for protection against transmission in low-risk heterosexual persons are considerably different or less stringent," Dr. Raphael Dolin of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston wrote in an editorial published by the medical journal.
On the Net:
New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org/
Vaccine conference: http://tinyurl.com/d235nn
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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