NEJM Publishes Perspective Pieces About HIV/AIDS Vaccine Research, XVII International AIDS Conference
The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday published two perspective pieces about HIV/AIDS vaccine research and the XVII International AIDS Conference earlier this month in Mexico City. Summaries appear below.
Margaret Johnston and Anthony Fauci: Researchers remain "cautiously optimistic" that increased understanding of HIV will lead to "creative ideas about how to design an effective vaccine," Johnston, director of the Vaccine Research Program in the Division of AIDS at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Fauci, director of NIAID, write. According to Johnston and Fauci, vaccines have been "among the most effective public health interventions," but an HIV vaccine has been "elusive and the quest disappointing and frustrating." They add that the "extraordinary mutability and resulting genetic diversity of HIV, which is substantially more complex than that of other human viruses, also present a formidable obstacle to immune control." Researchers "may not be able to develop an HIV vaccine that is highly effective in the classic sense of successful viral vaccines," the authors write, adding, "If we do, it will be in the face of enormous scientific challenges." To address such challenges, researchers "must turn to fundamental research to a degree that has not been required in the development of vaccines for other viral diseases," the authors write (Johnston/Fauci, NEJM, 8/28).
- Robert Steinbrook: The XVII International AIDS Conference earlier this month "reflected the fact that the pandemic continues to rage" in both developing and developed countries, such as the United States, "where it is often overlooked," Steinbrook, national correspondent for NEJM, writes in a perspective piece. Steinbrook writes that the message from the conference was that societies and individuals should "implement effective and multifaceted treatment and prevention programs, advance human rights and invest in AIDS health care systems." Steinbrook notes that the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection in the U.S. is "worse than was previously known, particularly among blacks and men who have sex with men" and that at the conference, "black leaders called for the United States to develop a national AIDS strategy and a 'domestic PEPFAR' program." He adds that the "challenge is to sustain and accelerate" the progress shown at the conference before the July 2010 XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna (Steinbrook, NEJM, 8/28).
Kaisernetwork.org was the official webcaster of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.