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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: Prevention: Herpes Vaccine Falls Short in Clinical Trial
Nicholas Bakalar
January 10, 2012
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).