Herpes Vaccine Trial at SLU Draws Fire From Catholic Group
St. Louis Post-Dispatch; B1
Thomson, Susan C.
St. Louis University is being condemned by a Catholic organization for what the group calls "recruiting sexually promiscuous women" to participate in the testing of a herpes vaccine. Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, accuses the college of promoting the use of contraceptives as well, which flies in the face of the Catholic value system. In response to the email protest campaign that Reilly has urged from his society members, Dr. Robert Webster, the university's associate provost for research, defended the trial as being vital to the greater public health initiative. The vaccine being tested is designed to prevent all forms of herpes infection, including the sexually transmitted type. He explained that all volunteers are thoroughly counseled on methods to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases; however, he said, "it is not accurate and it is unfair of Reilly to say that this study is promoting sexual promiscuity." During the four-year, $36.8 million nationwide study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, half of the participants will receive the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine and the other half will receive a hepatitis A vaccine. Each group will be monitored for 20 months for signs of herpes.