Subjects: Public health
As scientists race to create an AIDS/HIV vaccine, few have asked whether people can be persuaded to take the jab in the event it someday becomes available.
To assess HIV vaccine acceptability among high-risk adults, Peter Newman and colleagues from the University of Toronto interviewed 1,164 adults that have visited sexually transmitted disease clinics, needle/syringe exchange programs, and community health/HIV prevention programs in Los Angeles.
During the interviews, participants were asked to rate the acceptability of eight hypothetical vaccines, which varied in their effectiveness, cost and side effect profile, and to discuss how each one would impact their use of condoms after receiving the vaccine.
The scientists found that many high-risk individuals would not accept the vaccine, no matter what its characteristics were. Vaccine effectiveness turned out to be the attribute most likely to drive vaccine acceptance, followed by side effects and out-of-pocket cost.
The scientists also found that nearly 10% of the at-risk adults in the study might be more prone to engage in unprotected sex after they were vaccinated. This is critical since initial HIV vaccines are probably going to be only partially effective in preventing HIV infection.
“Merely having a vaccine available doesn’t mean it gets to the people who need it—a fact that is evidenced by the issues we’re seeing now around H1N1 vaccines,” Newman told BurrillReport. “If we want HIV vaccines to be acceptable and accessible to people, we need to consider all of these factors before we have a safe and relatively effective vaccine on the market.”
Newman added that educational programs built to support any future HIV/AIDs vaccine would have to explain in lay terms how it worked and what scientists mean when talking about the efficacy of a vaccine.