News of the WeekMEDICAL ETHICS

No Consensus on Rules for AIDS Vaccine Trials

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Science  03 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5373, pp. 22-23
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5373.22

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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND-- A meeting held here last week to try to set ethical ground rules for AIDS vaccine trials in poor countries almost reached boiling point when the participants grappled with a key question: If a vaccine is tested in a country that cannot afford anti-HIV drugs and volunteers become infected during the trial, should they be given state-of-the-art treatment? The answer could determine the ethical, financial, and scientific viability of AIDS vaccine tests. But for the 85 AIDS vaccine developers, ethicists, public health officials, lawyers, and activists from more than two dozen countries who tried to answer it, consensus proved elusive.