New poll taps strong public fear about HIV vaccines

One of the biggest problems vaccine manufacturers now face is the deeply ingrained fear that a vaccine will give you the very disease it's designed to guard against. And that fear was evident in a new Canadian poll showing that many would reject a new HIV vaccine, even if they run a high risk of getting infected.

Fewer than half of the people polled said they would get a shot that is 50 percent effective, while a completely effective jab would still be rejected by a quarter of the population. And the Toronto Sun reports that researchers even found resistance among intravenous drug users and homosexuals, who bear the highest risk of contracting AIDS.

If an effective vaccine is developed, the researchers have urged health officials to make it freely and widely available. Public health clinics would be a good place to start--rather than AIDS clinics--which would help ease any "social stigma" associated with the vaccine. And a major public education campaign should be mounted ahead of any vaccination program.

"With more than 2.7 million people worldwide newly infected with HIV every year, the need for safe and effective HIV vaccines is greater than ever," said Dr. Peter Piot, director of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College. "We are now in one of the richest phases in HIV vaccine research since the beginning of the epidemic. Following up on each of the most promising advances in HIV vaccine research will require appropriate funding, high levels of collaboration and information sharing and the full support of researchers and governments around the world."

- here's the story from the Toronto Sun