Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

AIDS Vaccine: What's Next?

I'm so discouraged about the failure of the AIDS vaccine. Are there any other possibilities on the horizon?

Answer (Published 3/27/2003)

The recent announcement that the first AIDS vaccine ever tested on a large group of people failed to protect a significant number against infection was discouraging. However, results suggested that the vaccine did seem to work among certain minorities. Among blacks, the vaccine worked 78.3 percent of the time, but of the 5,400 people in the trial, only 314 were black. Among Asians, the vaccine worked 68 percent of the time, but only 77 Asians took part. These small numbers may have skewed results; no one knows what would happen if the vaccine were tested on large numbers of blacks and Asians.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

In the trial as a whole, which consisted largely of gay men, the rate of infection among those who received the vaccine was 5.7 percent compared with 5.8 percent among those who received the placebo. This is not a statistically significant result.

While disappointing, this vaccine isn't the only one under development. Dozens of others are in the works. Researchers recently announced that another experimental vaccine seems safe for babies born to HIV infected women. Now that safety is established, researchers must decide on further testing. Someday a vaccine could replace the drugs now given to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child.

Researchers are working with eight different types of experimental vaccines aimed at different targets on HIV and infected human cells. Ultimately, we may end up with more than one that works - or with different vaccines for different populations at risk. VaxGen, the developer of the AIDS vaccine that "failed" has already announced plans to investigate why it seemed to protect blacks and Asians. Clearly, we have a lot to learn, and meantime the AIDS epidemic continues: it already has killed 20 million people worldwide and infected 40 million more. Most experts are convinced we'll see a vaccine before we see a cure. I'm disappointed with the overall results of the recent trial, but I'll be very interested to learn more about the findings among minorities. While no vaccine is as far along in the developmental process as VaxGen's, we still may make the 10 year goal set by former President Clinton in 1997.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

More information on HIV and AIDS from Dr. Weil's Condition Care Guide.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here