Thai HIV Vaccine Hype Misrepresents Data; AHF Calls for Independent Review of AIDS Vaccine Effort

Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:00am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

LOS ANGELES--(Business Wire)--
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare
provider in the US which now provides treatment and services for more than
110,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean and Asia, expressed frustration and disappointment at the news
that data that seriously undermines a widely reported Thai HIV vaccine trial
were not released publicly when other, more favorable data from the vaccine
trial were publicly reported late last month. The release of only partial-and
favorable-data, which showed initial efficacy in approximately one third of the
Thai vaccine trial participants, led to worldwide favorable publicity for the
thought-to-be-promising vaccine effort, which was conducted by researchers from
the US Army and Thailand. 

According to the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 10-11, 2009), a second heretofore
suppressed or previously unreleased analysis of data from the same Thai vaccine
trial suggested that the "modest protection highlighted by researchers might be
a statistical fluke." The Journal reported that the additional data were
available to the US and Thai researchers on September 24th when they announced
the trial results to worldwide acclaim, but they chose not to release them. WSJ
also noted, 

"The incomplete disclosure raises the question of whether the Army, the Thai
government and the U.S. National Institutes of Health-which helped fund the
study-rushed to give a positive spin to what may turn out to be another
inconclusive AIDS-vaccine effort."

"Following the repeated failures in AIDS vaccine research over the years, the
premature and partial reporting of select-and favorable-vaccine trial data here
underscores an inherent and glaring conflict of interest: Researchers working on
NIH-funded vaccine trials may be tempted to try to show successful outcomes
regardless of what the data may actually show in order to maintain or increase
NIH funding for continuing research," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS
Healthcare Foundation. "What is needed is rigorous review and evaluation of such
vaccine trial data by an independent outside body. For NIH-funded scientists or
US government researchers to also evaluate and discuss the significance of their
own research is akin to allowing students to grade their own papers. Data can be
cherry-picked; more so, if there is an incentive for future or increased
government research funding based on today`s thought-to-be `promising`
outcomes." 

About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation`s largest non-profit HIV/AIDS
healthcare provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more
than 110,000 individuals in 21 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at
www.aidshealth.org.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Media Contact:
Ged Kenslea, 323-860-5225
Mobile: 323-791-5526
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
Alternate Media Contact:
Lori Yeghiayan, 323-860-5227
Mobile: 323-377-4312
lori.yeghiayan@aidshealth.org

Copyright Business Wire 2009

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