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AIDS vaccine study results boost morale for US trial

Researchers in the United States are hoping to build on the recently reported success of an experimental vaccine for the AIDS virus conducted in Thailand.

Conducted by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and sponsored by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the trial will test the effectiveness of an HIV vaccine on 1,350 volunteers at 14 sites across the country including the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic, San Francisco Department of Health AIDS office and Columbia University.

An estimated 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV and roughly 2 million died from AIDS in 2007, the most recent figures available from the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

In the Thailand experiment, the vaccine was shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 31 percent but fell short of meeting the study goal of 50 percent.

Still in a field that often yields disappointing results the Thailand study has given scientists hope that progress is being made and a vaccine is possible. Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Columbia University Scott Hammer, MD, tells the Scientist:

It's basically a shot in the arm for the HIV vaccine field. Any positive news out of HIV vaccine work is important. We'll be looking very hard at these data and deciding the importance of them on the [HIV Vaccine Trials Network] 505 trial.

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