Researchers must go back to the drawing board before they can develop an effective vaccine against H.I.V., AIDS experts said at a scientific meeting on Tuesday.
And Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top federal official responsible for AIDS research, agreed that more fundamental knowledge is needed about H.I.V. and the way the body and experimental vaccines respond to it before the goal of a licensed H.I.V. vaccine can be reached.
The reassessment comes after last September’s widely publicized failure of what had been the most promising candidate for an H.I.V. vaccine. Many health officials believe that an effective vaccine would be the most crucial weapon in stopping the H.I.V. pandemic.
Scientists do not have a full understanding of why the vaccine failed, or why it was possibly harmful, in two large trials in the United States and South Africa. Dr. Fauci’s institute helped pay for the trials of the vaccine, which was made by Merck. Such failures have led a number of scientists to challenge the direction of federal H.I.V. research.
On Tuesday, the AIDS Health Care Foundation called for the suspension of money for H.I.V. vaccine research and reallocating resources into effective H.I.V./AIDS prevention, testing and treatment strategies.
But Dr. Fauci strongly rejected the proposal. “Under no circumstances will we stop AIDS vaccine research,” Dr. Fauci said at the conclusion of the meeting.
In 1985 scientists said a vaccine was 10 years away.
In 1990 they said a vaccine was 10 years away.
In 1995 they said a vaccine was 10 years away.
In 2000 they said a vaccine was 10-15 years away
In 2005 they said a vaccine was 15-20 years away.
Now they are saying all bets are off.