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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UNITED STATES: Prevention: Herpes Vaccine Falls Short in Clinical Trial


New York Times (01.10.12) - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Despite showing promise earlier, an experimental vaccine to prevent herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) did not prevent HSV-2 in a double-blinded trial, a recent study shows. The investigational vaccine previously was thought to protect uninfected women who have HSV-infected partners.

In the most recent study, researchers randomly assigned 8,323 uninfected women ages 18-30 to receive either the herpes vaccine or a hepatitis A vaccine as a placebo. After 20 months, HSV-2 infection rates did not differ significantly between the groups, though the herpes vaccine showed a modest protective effect against HSV-1 genital infections. While most genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-2, HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes.

"The failure of the vaccine really suggests that we need to look at new approaches to HSV vaccine development," said Dr. Peter A. Leone, a study co-author and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina. An attenuated virus-based vaccine may prove more effective.

The study, "Efficacy Results of a Trial of a Herpes Simplex Vaccine," was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2012;366(1):34-43).


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Information in this article was accurate in January 10, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.