Full Release of Thai HIV Vaccine Trial Data Provides Momentum; Continued Research Critical to Creating a Generation Free of HIV
October 20, 2009
Contact: Robert Yule
Statement of Laura Guay, M.D., Vice President of Research, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
While there is still debate about the statistical significance of the much-publicized Thai HIV vaccine trial, today’s publication of additional data has provided us with important results. Even the suggestion of a positive effect in preventing HIV infection is reason enough to push forward with more trials that build upon and learn from this study.
In particular, we must not leave children behind as we continue innovative HIV vaccine research. With 1,000 children infected with HIV around the globe each day — mostly in sub-Saharan Africa — it is imperative that we conduct parallel vaccine research efforts for both adults and children.
Similar vaccines to those used in the Thai trial have been tested for safety in infants born to HIV-positive women in the U.S. and Uganda. Vaccine safety and the ability to conduct high-quality vaccine trials in infants in Africa are well established. With the high risk of HIV infection in breastfed infants born to HIV-positive women, as well as the known source and timing of the potential infecting virus, trials in infants could be conducted in a fraction of the time and cost of a trial in adults. Further research with these vaccines or similar products in breastfeeding infants could be especially informative in determining what may have led to some protection in the adult trial in Thailand.
While the success of other trials and interventions has led to the effective reduction of mother-to-child transmission of HIV during pregnancy and labor and delivery, breastfeeding still remains a major prevention obstacle, particularly in resource-poor settings. Given the significant health risks, including death, associated with not breastfeeding in the developing world, there is an urgent need to find a protective vaccine that would allow infants born to HIV-positive women to breastfeed safely. With each new vaccine trial conducted, important information is learned that will inform our efforts moving forward. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation will continue to advance a robust research agenda to support laboratory studies and clinical trials for a pediatric HIV vaccine until we ultimately reach our goal of a generation free of HIV.
Background on the Foundation’s Pediatric HIV Vaccine Work:
Since 1988, the Foundation has funded groundbreaking research in the field of pediatric HIV/AIDS, including some 40 pediatric HIV vaccine-related research grants totaling more than $11 million. This year, the Foundation announced six pediatric HIV vaccine research awards totaling $1.1 million. Past and current awardees are already making significant headway toward their goals of understanding infant immune responses to HIV and deciphering the complexities of transmission of HIV through breast milk.
About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation:
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation has been a global leader in the fight against pediatric AIDS for the past twenty years. Its innovative research programs, collaborative training initiatives, advocacy efforts, and rapidly expanding international prevention and treatment programs are bringing dramatic changes to the lives of children worldwide.