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AIDS Vaccine Entices, Stumps Scientists

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The prospect of an AIDS vaccine both entices and stumps scientists. There has been progress, but no clear path.

Recently some of the top HIV scientist met to discuss where we are in that search.

Earlier this year, the first HIV vaccine to finishe human trials produced disappointing results. That prompted experts to say that we may still be years away from developing a successful vaccine against the virus.

Even so, researchers are not giving up hope.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health: "We now have a variety of products that are in various stages of researcher trials."

The scientists say if we are going to be successful, there has to be cooperation between the government and private vaccine research groups.

We need to focus most on developing vaccines for regions of the world where the virus is creating the most devastation-- namely Africa and parts of Asia.

Even if we manage to develop a vaccine, there will still be enormous challenges to overcome in getting it to those most in need.

Dr. Seth Berkley, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative: "We also have to think about manufacturing. How do we manufacture the millions or perhaps billions of doses necessary? Who's going to pay for those facilities? And how we make sure we can make it available for the very poor."

The need is urgent. Every day, 14,000 people worldwide become infected with the AIDS virus. There is no cure, and for the vast majority of those infected, no access to medicines that could save or at least prolong their life.

It will take global response to tackle this global health threat. Already, more than 12,000 people worldwide have volunteered to test dozens of vaccines.

It's encouraging, but clearly we still have a long way to go.

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