Vaccine failure means "crisis" in AIDS fight

March 21, 2008 2:42:45 PM PDT
Field tests of promising vaccine end in failure, and there are indications the vaccine may have increased risk of AIDS infections

The vaccine, developed by Merck, was in trials on 4 continents. 7 other trials of similar AIDS vaccines have either been stopped or put off indefinitely, while researchers analyze the failures.

The two major trials recruited people at high risk of HIV infection through sexual activity. the chief goal of the vaccine was to stimulate immunity to produce a less serious illness. But in both tests, people who got the vaccine were more likely to become infected, perhaps twice as likely.

This year, the government's budget for AIDS vaccine research is half a billion dollars.

Many experts now question the premise of the vaccine, and the overall strategy of the government's search for a vaccine. Some say the money should be redirected into basic research.