Many Have Mixed Feelings on HIV Vaccine Research

Most adults in the U.S. believe that a vaccine against HIV infection offers the best chance of controlling the global AIDS epidemic and are confident that an effective vaccine against the virus will be developed. However, only a minority said they would strongly support a friend or family member who participated in an HIV vaccine trial.

These are among the findings of a telephone survey designed to gauge attitudes, knowledge, and awareness of HIV vaccine research in the U.S. For the survey, researchers polled 2,008 Americans 18 years of age or older who were randomly selected from the general population, as well as 1,501 randomly selected from three groups highly affected by HIV infection - African-Americans, Hispanics and men who have sex with men (MSM).

Full results of the survey conducted by Matthew Murguia, director of the Office of Program Operations and Scientific Information in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Division of AIDS, and colleagues were posted online this month by the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and will appear in an upcoming print issue.

HIV infection is a viral infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that gradually destroys the immune system, resulting in infections that are hard for the body to fight.

The researchers report that 62.5 percent of the general population felt that a vaccine to prevent HIV is the best way to control and end the AIDS epidemic, while 61.9 percent, 74.3 percent, and 70.6 percent, respectively, of African-Americans, Hispanics, and MSM, felt this way.

However, only 28.8 percent of the general population would welcome the idea of having someone they know participating in an HIV vaccine trial. The corresponding figures for the three highly impacted populations were 34.9 percent, 45.9 percent, and 67.8 percent, respectively.

Among the other survey findings: 47.1 percent of African Americans, 26.5 percent of Hispanics, and 13.4 percent of MSM believed an HIV vaccine already exists and is being kept secret.

Any symptoms of illness may occur, since infections can occur throughout the body. Special symptoms relating to HIV infection include:

  • Sore throat  
  • Mouth sores, including candidal infection  
  • Muscular stiffness or aching  
  • Headache  
  • Diarrhea  
  • Swollen lymph glands  
  • Fever  
  • Fatigue  
  • Rash of various types, including seborrheic dermatitis  
  • Frequent vaginal yeast infections

Note: At the time of diagnosis with HIV infection, many people have not experienced any symptoms.

Also, 78.0 percent of African Americans, 57.8 percent of Hispanics, and 68.0 percent of MSM incorrectly believed, or did not know if, the vaccines being tested could cause HIV infection.

Subgroup analyses showed that women tended to have less knowledge of or a decreased awareness of HIV vaccine research.

“It is clear that we have a lot of work to do in explaining HIV vaccine research,” Murguia said in a statement.

“Tens of thousands of volunteers are required for the more than 30 HIV vaccine clinical trials currently planned or under way,” added NIAID director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. “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.”

SOURCE: Journal of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes, 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.