Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Efficacious HIV Vaccine Found!

Let the joyous news be spread the Red Ribbon Witch May One Day Be Dead!

Even though the study found that the vaccine only reduces the risk by 31% (which is way fucking better than 0%).
Even though the study was only done in Thailand with the strain of HIV most prevalent in Asia.
Even though the U.S. Army was the main funder of the vaccine trial.

I am still tickled red by this news.

Never before has any HIV vaccine been proven to be effective in preventing the spread of the infection. But some brilliant doctor in Thailand combined two previously ineffective vaccines and came up with a vaccine that, in fact, prevented, completely, HIV infection in a number of patients. It works. Dear God it works.

Now, before anyone starts screaming cure, the truth remains that it doesn't always work. As a matter of fact, 32% reduction in transmission still means 69% transmission. But before every single vaccine that came along was like a shot in the genetic viral RNA dark. Now there is something to build upon. It will take years before any vaccine is perfected, and there is still the question of whether or not it will be effective against the strains prevalent in Africa or the one in North and South America, but this discovery, ladies and gentlemen, has just won someone a Noble Prize (don't EVEN doubt it) and will, one day, be hailed with the vaccines for Small Pox, Polio, and most likely the discovery of penicillin.

And let's not minimize the importance of this for the region even if it turns out the vaccine is not effective against the African and American strains of the virus. HIV infection rates are through the roof in India and in China, the world's two most populous nations. Stopping the tide of HIV infection rates or lowering them significantly in those two nations will, intrinsically, reduce the overall infection rates across the region. Since most research shows that super infections are not only rare but most likely improbably, as the stronger of two strains tends to crowd out the other strain, it means that, perhaps, we can cut off the HIV explosion in Asia, which, almost uniformly, is developing with less than stellar health care and high rates of AIDS mortality.

I am excited.

Now, don't get me wrong, though I play a blond on TV, I actually have a decent grasp of the basics of scientific research. I moonlight, what can I say. I understand that the experiment has to be replicated. I understand that there needs to be further study and refining. I understand that if the pharmaceutical companies get their hands on this it is going to be priced out of the reach of the poor of Asia.. I understand the U.S. Army doesn't do shit squat number one out of the goodness of its heart. There is something related to biological warfare or may I turn into a fucking Power Ranger over night. I understand that this could be as good as it gets.

But what if it isn't?

A vaccine is not a cure. Lord knows I know that. There has to be continued studied for folks like me to be free of the disease that already have it. But for the vast majority of the people in the world that never need to get it, for the rape victims in Africa and the US prison system, for the AIDS babies and the transgender sex workers, this could mean the difference between life and slow death.

So do not begrudge me my joy. I understand the limitations and boundaries of that joy, but hope breeds faith, and faith has been known to change the world if we let it.

For more information on the discovery turn on the goddamn television set or click this link.


  1. A window opens, and all of a sudden THE LIGHT shines through.
    Amen to this finding, I believe and feel we are near a cure.

  2. Be as joyous as you want...this is FABULOUS! Don't ever temper (or tamper with) joy. :)


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