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. Large-Scale Trial Of HIV Vaccine Launched In South Africa

AIDS ignorance rampant in pandemic-hit Malawi: survey
Blantyre (AFP) Feb 09 - About 60 percent of people aged between 15 and 49 in AIDS-ravaged Malawi lack comprehensive knowledge about HIV prevention, a new survey has said. A UN-funded study of 31,200 households across the impoverished southern African nation unveiled Thursday showed that only 40 percent of the targeted respondents were properly clued in about the disease and prevention methods. "The indicators make depressing reading," said Health Minister Marjorie Ngaunje.

"However there are still some positive indicators in the survey that reflect the programmes and policies the current government put in place to address the plight of women and children in the country." The study said that 40 percent of women aged between 15 and 24 used a condom while having sex with a casual partner. The figure for men was significantly higher at 60 percent. Around 14 percent of Malawi's 13 million people are infected with HIV, according to official figures. There are about 78,000 AIDS-related deaths every year.

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 08, 2007
South Africa has launched Africa's largest-yet clinical trial of a promising vaccine against HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, the US National Institutes of Health announced Thursday. About 3,000 men and women who do not have HIV will be enrolled in the program to test the vaccine, supplied by drugmaker Merck and Co., which in earlier, smaller trials proved effective in more than half the people who received it.

"Our best hope of ending the AIDS epidemic is a safe and effective vaccine," said NIH director Elias Zerhouni in a statement.

"To achieve that goal requires the concerted effort of governments, scientists and private industry as well as participation by well-informed volunteers."

The trial is being undertaken by the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), together with NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The NIH said the trial is in the phase II "test of concept" phase for the vaccine, designed to generate preliminary information on the efficacy of the vaccine before deciding on a larger phase III trial which, if successful, could lead to licensing and mass production of the vaccine.

The trial will involve volunteer men and women between 18 and 35, with some receiving the test vaccine and others a placebo, to determine whether the vaccine can prevent HIV from infecting someone or if it can suppress the level of HIV early on in those who do become infected.

NIH said that the vaccine contains copies of only three key HIV genes, and not the entire HIV virus, so that those receiving it will not be infected with HIV.

The vaccine has already been tested on some 1,800 people, and since two years ago a separate trial has been ongoing in the United States, Canada, South America, the Caribbean and Australia.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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AIDS Vaccine Closer But Remains Elusive
Washington (UPI) Feb 08, 2007
The launch of the first large-scale AIDS vaccine trial could bring the world one step closer to the elusive goal of preventing the disease's spread, researchers say, but there is still a long road to a marketable vaccine. The trial is "part of a complex and multi-faceted strategy," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is partially funding the research.

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