AIDS and the Next 25 Years

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Science  09 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5877, pp. 717
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159797

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Later this month, researchers will gather at the Institut Pasteur in Paris to mark the quarter century since human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was discovered as the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Since then, over 60 million people have been infected with the virus and over 25 million people have died. These numbers make the results of two "proof of concept" vaccine efficacy trials--the STEP and Phambili trials--extremely disappointing. Indeed, these results have raised questions about whether investments in HIV vaccine research are misplaced and whether a vaccine is even achievable. Those views are misguided. The failure of candidate vaccines or drugs is to be expected. More than ever, investigations in humans are essential to explore concepts, test hypotheses, and delineate the human immune response to HIV immunogens.