Sustaining Support for Domestic HIV Vaccine Research

By the time Kevin Shancady walked into the Denver Department of Public Health to enroll in an HIV vaccine trial, he'd managed to put most of his fears behind him: fears of a government hostile to gay men, fears that researchers might inject volunteers with a dangerous vaccine. "So many people have died," he said, "and I feel an obligation to advance prevention research. I'm willing to take some risk. And if the vaccine works, then I'll have protection." It's that mix of optimism, altruism and hope for personal benefit that has made it possible for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to recruit over 4800 Americans into a cohort being readied for HIV vaccine trials. But what Kevin heard when he sat down with a study counselor shows why recruiting volunteers is just the first step on the long and difficult road of HIV vaccine testing. In the best tradition of public health, the study counselor warned him of the possible risks of trial participation. "He told me participants in this trial might not be able to join other vaccine trials," Kevin said, "and if a different vaccine is eventually developed later, it might not work as well in me as in people who had not been in one of these early vaccine studies. I felt blindsided, actually."
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