HIV vaccine tests not to be feared

New testing has shown success in preventing the contraction of the HIV/AIDS virus in animals. The Centers for Disease Control should start similar testing on humans.

For years, scientists thought that creating a vaccine for HIV/AIDS was the only way to stop the spread of the disease.

But scientists now believe there may be drugs already on the shelves that could slow down or even stop the spread of HIV.

Tests were preformed on monkeys using tenofovir (Viread) and emtricitabine, or FTC (Emtriva) – in combination – called Truvada.

The monkeys, given the drug on a daily basis, were given a combination of the human and monkey strands of the AIDS virus through rectal injections.

They were found virus-free after a 14-week trial leading scientists to believe that the combination drug can prevent the contraction of the HIV/AIDS virus from person to person.

Because the results from the monkey experiment were so promising scientists now want to start testing on humans. A study of 400 heterosexual women in Ghana by the Family Health Initiative, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, is the furthest along. Similar studies, also funded by the foundation, are also taking place in Nigeria, Cameroon and Malawi but other countries are afraid because they think scientists may be deliberately giving people the virus.

Though the testing results using the two drugs have a promising outcome for the worldwide epidemic of HIV/AIDS, the U.S. government and the CDC will have to do an extremely good job persuading people that they can be exposed to the virus but not contract it when taking the new combination drug.

Katrelle Simmons for the editorial board