GENEVA, Switzerland--A newly established United Nations AIDS program based in Geneva has announced plans to initiate large-scale clinical trials of two HIV vaccines as early as mid-1996, probably in Brazil and Thailand. Dr. Peter Piot, chief of research at the World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS, will head the new group, which will involve six UN agencies.
From 3,000 to 20,000 volunteers will participate in the trials in the two developing countries, Dr. Piot said. The UN group plans to conduct behavioral research and pilot studies in an effort to ensure that volunteers do not engage in risky behavior during the trial because they think the vaccine is protecting them.
Last October, a WHO advisory committee recommended that the organization go ahead with plans for large-scale HIV vaccine trials. Such trials were rejected last June by a US panel.
With an estimated 17 million people infected worldwide, even a vaccine with a low degree of efficacy would prove valuable in stemming the epidemic, the WHO advisory committee argued.