The HIV/Aids vaccine trial has been extended for another year due
to the difficulty of finding enough volunteers to meet the
target, a project director said yesterday.
Supachai Rerks-ngarm, who is also principal investigator at the
Department of Disease Control, said the experiment will continue
until September next year instead of this year as originally
planned, so that more volunteers can be recruited.
The trial, which is in its third and most important stage, is
aimed at finding about 16,000 volunteers in Chon Buri and Rayong.
They will be given either a vaccine or a placebo over a one-year
period and then health authorities will monitor their progress
for three years. It is hoped the test will shed light on an
effective treatment for those suffering from the virus.
Only 6,000 people in the two eastern provinces have joined the
programme and 4,000 have been injected with the vaccine.
The US-funded Aids vaccine trial started in Thailand last
September. Volunteers receive an injection of the so-called
prime-boost test, which is a combination of two vaccines - Alvac
of France-based Aventis Pasteur and AidVAX B/E made by the
California-based VaxGen Inc.
Chief of the Disease Control Department, Charal Trinvuthipong,
blamed ineffective public relations campaigns to raise awareness
of the importance of the project, for failure to convince Aids
patients to become volunteers.
The same problem was also identified by a team of researchers
from the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Science which
visited the areas in February to assess progress.
It recommended that communities in the two provinces be given
more information about the programme.
The progress of the third-phase trial will also be discussed at
the July 11-17 International Aids Conference in Bangkok.