Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese student signs up for AIDS vaccine trial

HELP `Pierre' said he decided to volunteer for the trial, which has trouble finding participants, because he realized the seriousness of the AIDS pandemic

By Wang Chang-min  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese student ``Pierre'' shows the card explaining his participation in a trial for an AIDS vaccine in France. ``Pierre'' is the only Asian participant.

PHOTO: WANG CHANG-MIN, TAIPEI TIMES

A Taiwanese doctoral student in France has volunteered to participate in a trial of a possible AIDS vaccine called VAC-18, organized by the French Agence Nationale de Recherches sur le Sida (National Agency for AIDS, ANRS).

Of the more than 100 participants in the trial, the 31-year-old Taiwanese, who wanted to be known as "Pierre," was the only Asian.

It's difficult to find participants for such trials, especially with AIDS research.

The agency could not offer any incentives, as this might lead to ethical conflicts and participants lying about their sexual history.

Pierre said he saw a call for volunteers on television three years ago.

He said he decided to volunteer because he realized the seriousness of the AIDS pandemic, especially in China where entire villages have been infected with AIDS because of unsafe blood donation methods.

Pierre said he hopes his participation will help advance AIDS research and help AIDS patients in Asia as well.

The participants were screened very strictly, both before and during the trial.

Over the course of one year, they were injected with the vaccine four times.

Pierre finished the trial last year, and is still healthy.

Some participants worried that the vaccine might cause them to get infected with AIDS, but researchers explained that the vaccine used in this trial cannot infect humans, and that no live AIDS virus is used.

Because of the vaccine, Pierre might show up as a false positive if he would test for AIDS in the future. For this reason, he has to carry a card with him explaining he had participated in the vaccine trial.

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