February 24, 2003
The vaccine appeared to be effective, however, in a subgroup of subjects, notably African Americans. Among them, 2 percent who received the vaccine became HIV-infected, compared to 8.1 percent of the placebo group -- a statistically significant difference. When Asians and mixed-race volunteers were added to the group of blacks -- a total of about 500 of 5,000 volunteers -- the protective effect was nearly as strong.
"It appears that blacks, Asians and the other non-white volunteers were able to induce a higher level of antibody than others. There appears to be a correlation between that and protection," said VaxGen spokesperson James Key.
While more than a dozen vaccines have been tested in small populations, AIDSVAX was the first one tested in a large, diverse population. It was tested in 5,417 volunteers at high risk for HIV in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. VaxGen is testing a similar vaccine in Thailand; results of that study will be known later this year.
02.24.03; David Brown
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