HIV Vaccine Trial Of 2,500 Participants Stopped

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced Thursday that a large-scale HIV vaccine trial was stopped, due to its failure. The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) said that the trial's end is a reminder of how difficult it is to develop an effective HIV vaccine.

An independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board for the trial, HVTN 505, found that the vaccine wouldn't be able to show effective results, according to the data. Participants in the trial included 2,500 homosexual men and transgender women, all from the U.S. The trial was testing a two-part HIV vaccine before the immunizations were stopped.  

"This trial has provided a clear, swift answer about a specific vaccine strategy. It's not the answer we hoped for, but the search doesn't end here. There are other approaches that must be pursued without delay, and this result will help to focus and guide research efforts," AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren said in a press release.

Although the trial was stopped and showed no benefit, the data will be analyzed to help refine the next approach to HIV vaccine research.

"Researchers need to unpack the data from this trial to understand more about why this strategy didn't prevent infection," Warren said.

The HIV vaccine from the HVTN 505 was a two-part strategy, a series of DNA "prime" shots with a vaccine "boost." The vector was based on a common cold virus known as adenovirus type 5 (Ad5).  The adenovirus-based vaccine is just one the HIV approaches that researchers are studying in the hope of finding a way to prevent the virus that causes AIDS.

Warren added that reductions in new HIV infections can be achieved with proven prevention and treatment strategies. Male and female condoms, HIV treatment, voluntary medical male circumcision, oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are all preventive measures.

"AVAC also recognizes the enormous contributions of the more than 2,500 volunteers in this trial. Their altruistic involvement makes HIV vaccine research possible. While today's result is disappointing, we need to look at the bigger picture of AIDS vaccine science," Warren said. Follow-up among the participants of the stopped HIV trial will continue. 

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