Commitment To Conducting More Basic Research in Search for HIV/AIDS Vaccine ‘Prudent,’ Editorial Says
The cancellation last fall of a Merck HIV/AIDS vaccine trial was "branded as a 'catastrophe' by one scientist and as setting the race for a cure 'back to square one' by others," a Washington Post editorial says, adding, "The hyperbole is understandable, but some perspective is in order."
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has "cut a destructive path across entire continents and all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups," the editorial says. It adds, "Americans and people around the world have agitated against government indifference and public apathy to instill a sense of urgency to develop medicines that would ease suffering of those with the disease and to ultimately find a vaccine." However, finding a "vaccine is neither easy nor fast," and "failure of human vaccine trials is common," according to the Post. There is "still much that isn't known about the virus or AIDS," the editorial says, adding, "So what might look like a devastating failure to the public could be a steppingstone to advanced medications and an eventual cure." Scientists involved in the Merck trial answered the "series of questions" they were "looking to answer," the Post says, adding, "The answers just weren't the ones the scientists were hoping for."
Scientists involved in HIV/AIDS vaccine research last month at a meeting convened by NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases "rededicated themselves to conducting more basic research," according to the editorial. This "approach is prudent," the editorial says, concluding that although the "impatience of those who want a cure" is understandable, "that solution will require better science" (Washington Post, 4/21).