The news this week that VaxGen's AIDSVAX Phase III trial gave only 3.8% protection from HIV infection dampened the hopes of many. The result was described as "disappointing" by Seth Berkeley, President of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). But there are some grounds for optimism. AIDSVAX may have worked in black women and, in addition, 19 different vaccines are in the pipeline for trials, while several new AIDS vaccine concepts are in development.

There were 5009 people in the AIDSVAX trial, of whom 314 were black. Of these, 111 received placebo, of whom nine became infected; 203 received the vaccine, of whom four became infected. The placebo and vaccine groups had roughly equal numbers of men and women: 58 men and 53 women in the placebo group; 110 men and 93 women in the vaccine group. But whereas in the placebo group there were five infections in men and...

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