Most in U.S. Hopeful About Development of HIV Vaccine, But Many Fear Participation in Trials, Study Shows

August 9, 2005

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Although most U.S. adults are confident that an HIV vaccine will be found and that a vaccine is the most effective way to combat HIV/AIDS, most adults also would be reluctant to support a friend or family member's participation in an HIV vaccine trial, according to the results of a federal survey published online in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, UPI/Washington Times reports (UPI/Washington Times, 8/8). The study, which was conducted by the HIV Vaccine Communications Campaign at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is based on telephone surveys conducted between December 2002 and February 2003 among 3,509 U.S. adults. About 2,000 of the participants were randomly selected, and the rest were selected from subpopulations with high HIV prevalence rates, such as blacks, Latinos and men who have sex with men. According to the survey, while 73% of U.S. adults surveyed believed it was important to personally support HIV vaccine research, only 29% of them said they would be very supportive of friends and family volunteering for HIV vaccine trials. Furthermore, 57% of the respondents -- including 50% of MSM, 55% of blacks and 78% of Latinos -- said they would trust the government to protect HIV vaccine trial volunteers (NIAID release, 8/8). Approximately 78% of black, 68% of MSM and 57% of Latino respondents either were unaware of the safety of participation in an HIV vaccine trial or incorrectly believed that participation can cause HIV infection, the survey says. In addition, 47% of blacks, 26% of Latinos and 13% of MSM surveyed believed that an HIV vaccine already exists but is being concealed (CQ HealthBeat, 8/8).

Study co-author Matthew Murguia, director of the Office of Program Operations and Scientific Information in the NIAID Division of AIDS, said the survey results help identify the populations that need to be better educated about HIV vaccine research, as well as which messages need to be reworked to reach certain groups. "Tens of thousands of volunteers are required for the more than 30 HIV vaccine clinical trials currently planned or under way," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said, adding, "It is essential that current and future trials involve volunteers from diverse communities to enable us to find a vaccine that works for all populations" (NIAID release, 8/8).

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