U.S. military and Thai medical researchers have found a vaccine that can help prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. A clinical trial of 16,000 volunteers in Thailand determined that the vaccine, known as RV 144, reduced the chances of infection by 31 percent. Science and health blogs warn that much more research needs to be done before declaring victory over AIDS--researchers do not even understand yet why RV 144 was effective. But the discovery is still being heralded as a breakthrough. The news sparked measured hope in the blogosphere.
- 'Modest But Notable,' Jacob Goldstein wrote at The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog. "Put another way: The results aren't particularly strong, as far as vaccines go -- the vaccine combination used in the study won't be able to stop the spread of HIV around the globe. But, given the history of AIDS vaccine failures, any benefit at all is something worth noting."
- Heartening, But There's Still a Ways to Go, Steve Novella wrote at Discover Magazine's Bad Astronomy blog. "The vaccine is not widely available; it's still experimental," he cautions. "It was also tested on just strains found in Thailand, which may not translate well for other strains found elsewhere."
- 'No Silver Bullet Yet,' Dr. Peter Klatsky warned at the Huffington Post. He said the results of the trial were "underwhelming." Condoms, he wrote, are still the best way to prevent AIDS.
While I am encouraged by the efforts and work being done to develop a vaccine, we have yet to find a silver bullet. Meanwhile, condoms, education and empowering women remain the most effective ways to reduce infection. Improving access to treatment and to providing prophylactic medicines for pregnant HIV infected women are also incredibly successful and cost effective.
- 'Breakthrough!' Perez Hilton wrote triumphantly. "Awesome! Keep going! A real, working vaccine is imminent!"
- A Spark of Hope, Keori wrote at Pam's House Blend. "We are not out of the woods yet. There is much still to be done. But I will allow myself a spark of hope."
- 'A Bit of Good News,' said the Queerty blog. "And wouldn't you know it: The U.S. Army was behind the research."