AIDS Vaccine Success Humbled After Further Analysis
Last month, an experimental vaccine for the AIDS virus was the first that appeared to prevent HIV infection, but newer analyses suggest that its benefit, if real, is modest, the Wall Street Journal reports. Initial data of 16,402 people showed that the vaccine had a 31 percent lower infection rate than a placebo, a result that showed statistical significance. But two new analyses published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a higher probability that the positive results were due to chance. One of the new analyses showed that the vaccine was 26.2 percent effective at reducing infection, with a 16 percent probability that the result was due to chance, according to the Wall Street Journal. That's higher than the 4 percent probability of chance calculated in the initial results. Anything above 5 percent is considered statistically insignificant.
HPV Vaccine: Women Now Have a Choice Between Cervarix and Gardasil
Two recent pieces of news will change how we protect ourselves from the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus: The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Gardasil vaccine in boys and men ages 9 to 26 and also OK'd a new HPV vaccine, Cervarix, for girls and women ages 10 to 25. What this means is that HPV infections may drop precipitously, with both boys and girls getting vaccinated. It also means that girls and women will have a choice between two vaccines, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz writes.
Vaccine experts say that in order to make a dent in the vast number of women who become infected with HPV—about 80 percent at some point in their lives—men need to be vaccinated as well. While the government's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to vote Wednesday to recommend routine vaccination for boys, what's not known is whether parents will actually have their sons do so, Kotz writes. Gardasil was approved to protect against genital warts, but these occur pretty rarely in men (only about 1 percent of the time). For this reason, they and parents of young boys may not feel the need for "altruistic" immunization just to prevent transmitting the infection to others. Read more.
Autism and Vaccines: Is the Case Closed?
A new study finds that the blood level of mercury in kids with autism is nearly the same as the level in those without the disorder, HealthDay reports. Researchers did not look at whether mercury may cause autism. However, their results may ease parents' concern about whether mercury and vaccines, which in the past have contained thimerosal, a preservative that contains mercury, might also play a role in autism. The majority of children who participated had been vaccinated after thimerosal was removed from vaccines, according to HealthDay.
In July, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz and physician and columnist Bernadine Healy discussed the association between vaccines and autism with leaders of the American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP President Judith Palfrey told Kotz then, "We can put a check mark next to 'Vaccines do not cause autism.' " Read more.
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