Big Trouble in Little Thailand
Is the HIV Vaccine in the News Promising?
A study on aids vaccinations made the headlines this last week exciting many Americans. While the vaccine studied showed only meager results researchers say they have hope. Researchers reported that around 30% fewer vaccinated individuals contracted HIV when compared to non-vaccinated and that the vaccination had no major side effects. More startling than the actual study results are some other statistics we can take from the study.
Thailand's HIV Vaccine Study
1. The study which started in 2003 took place in Thailand and is the largest aids vaccine trial to date.
2. 16.000 volunteers were studied
3. Only 8,000 people were actually given Vaccinations the rest were part of a control group.
4. Another 8,000 people received a series of a combination of vaccinations, that is 2 different vaccines, neither of which worked to prevent contraction of HIV alone.
5. 74 of the 8,000 person non-vaccinated control group contracted HIV
6. 51 of the 8,000 vaccinated individuals contracted HIV
7. Researchers also studied the amount of the HIV virus in the blood of studied individuals who contracted HIV and found that the vaccines had no effect.
These results being considered promising is alarming when taken into context with Thailand and its overall population. Taking into consideration that researchers may have selected volunteers from a high risk panel, the results mean that nearly 10% of the high risk citizen's Thailand will contract the HIV virus. If researchers did not select high risk candidates it may mean that around 60,000 Thai citizen's may have contracted the virus since 2003.
So who were the Volunteers? The volunteers were "an eclectic mix of housewives, fishermen, factory workers, laborers and
prostitutes – had seen firsthand how the disease ravaged this region of
plantations and industrial estates in southeast Thailand, part of the
epidemic that kills millions worldwide each year." Too many people in Thailand are in high risk groups despite current policy dealing with the epidemic.
How Does America Compare?
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1.1 million Americans carry the HIV virus and the population of the United States is around 307,596,000. While more promising than Thailand's statistics, these numbers are very alarming. The number 1.1 million is actually lowered by the "introduction of three-drug anti-HIV treatments ("cocktails") that included protease inhibitors." While greatly reducing Aids related deaths, these treatments only slightly decreased the risk of contracting HIV.
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