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U.S. Forced to Stop HIV Vaccine Study Due to Poor Results

Update Date: Apr 26, 2013 02:20 PM EDT

Despite the recent positive news surrounding HIV research, the goal of finding better treatment options or a cure experienced a setback earlier this week. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a large-scale HIV study was cancelled due to the lack of evidence that the experiment was helping people. The study, which started in 2009, tested the effects of the HVTN 505 vaccine in protecting people from the virus, and after years of research, the vaccine was found to have little to no effect in curbing the disease.

The study recruited 2,504 volunteers, with 1,244 receiving the HVTN 505 vaccine and 1,250 receiving a placebo. The volunteers were mostly composed of men who engaged in sexual behaviors with other men or with transsexual people, as per requested by the study's researchers. Much to the researchers' dismay, the HVTN 505 vaccine seemed to increase the risk of people getting infected with the virus in comparison to the group that received the placebo. According to the review of the study done this past week, 41 people who received the vaccine ended up being infected with HIV whereas 30 people in the placebo group became HIV positive. The review also indicated that 27 vaccinated volunteers were infected after 28 weeks from the vaccination date and 21 placebo participants were infected. The researchers stated that the increase of HIV infections from the first 28 weeks after receiving the vaccine to months after in the group of participants that received the vaccine was "non-statistically significant."

"It is not clear why this occurred and further analysis is needed to draw any firm conclusions," the NIAID stated. "Based on the finding, the [independent data and safety monitoring board] recommended closer follow-up of participants beyond their month 24 study visit. NIAID concurred, and will, in concert with the study investigators, be amending the study protocol to allow for closer, extended follow up of the vaccine recipients."

Despite the cancellation of this large HIV study, researchers are prepared to go back to the cutting board and start over. 

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