January 31, 2010

January 31, 2010
Travel Day

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and I hope you are having a safe and great weekend.

Today was a travel day for me. I had to drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Jacksonville. I will be here for a week seeing doctors, my dentist, getting medications and moving out of my old place. Luckily, I have heard several friends are going to show up on Saturday to help with packing the Uhaul and the cleaning. Otherwise, I do not know how everything would get done.

The drive from Ft. Lauderdale takes about six hours if you drive near the speed limit. When you are traveling with neuropathy, a bad back and three dogs; it can take even longer. So glad I will not have to do this trip again for awhile. In fact, I do not know the next time I will be back in Jacksonville. So the end of the week will be a sad one for me as I say "until we meet again" to my friends. I have lost so many friends over the years that I do not believe in saying goodbye. Call it superstitious but I consider it bad luck.

If you read my blog regularly then you have heard me talk about a possible vaccine due to recent developments in HIV/AIDS research. But if there was a vaccine would people take it?

t depends on the level of protection it affords, says a research team from the University of California at Los Angeles.

If an HIV vaccine became available tomorrow, would the world line up for it? The answer may come as a surprise: not necessarily. It will all depend on how effective the vaccine is. This is the chief finding of a study conducted by William Cunningham, MD, MPH, and researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). They concluded that if the vaccine is only partially effective, it will take more work and preparation to successfully roll it out.

Scientists have been predicting that an effective HIV vaccine was “just 10 years away” for almost 30 years now. Some despair that research may never produce a vaccine that prompts the immune system to ward off HIV infection 100 percent of the time. Others, however, are heartened by last year’s news of an HIV vaccine, RV 144, that appeared the tiniest bit more effective than a placebo, suggesting we might not be far off from developing a compound that affords at least partial protection.

Partial protection, however, might not be enticing enough to people who most need a vaccine, notably individuals at high risk of eventually becoming infected with the virus. “The [UCLA] study very much confirms what I think many of us would have said, which is that efficacy matters—how good something is will determine largely whether someone wants to use it,” says Mitchell Warren, the executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) in New York City.

The study involved more than 1,000 volunteers in Los Angeles County considered to be at high risk for HIV. Cunningham and his colleagues gave each volunteer a card describing a vaccine—the vaccines varied in levels of effectiveness, side effects and cost—and asked whether they would accept the vaccine. The responses were decidedly mixed. If a vaccine surfaced that was 99 percent effective, had no side effects and would only cost $10, people overwhelmingly said they would line up to be vaccinated. When asked about a vaccine that was only 50 percent effective or had side effects or would cost $250 a pop, people got a lot less enthusiastic.

Another important finding of the study, called LA VOICES, was that participants reported they would not likely increase their HIV risk behaviors much if they were given a modestly effective vaccine.

Now that Cunningham has demonstrated that the demand for a vaccine will depend on its qualities and that a moderately effective vaccine will not necessarily fuel high-risk activity, it will be up to scientists and policy makers to ensure that people are educated and ready if we are ever so fortunate as to have an effective vaccine in our sights.

I will be talking about this some more in the next week as I have time to do some more research.

Hope you have a great rest of your weekend. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab