Source: New York Times
By: McNeil, Jr., Donald G.
A study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases focused on 1,836 men who participated in a trial of Merck’s AIDS vaccine, which lasted from 2004 to 2007, when it was halted due to concerns that it was making certain men more vulnerable to infection. Researchers led by Dr. Ann Duerr, vaccine specialist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, found that for a period of 18 months, uncircumcised men and those with high levels of antibodies to Type 5 adenovirus were more susceptible to HIV infection after receiving the vaccine, which was made from a weakened and modified adenovirus 5. The increased risk appeared to wane after 18 months. Although it remains uncertain why this occurred, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believes it can be attributed to biology. “The lesson is that you’ve got to be careful if you use a vector vaccine,” Fauci says. An AIDS vaccine trial that currently is enrolling men in 16 U.S. cities will exclude those who have not been circumcised or have had previous adenovirus infections in response to the failed vaccine trial.