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June 20, 2008

A Call for Continued HIV Vaccine Research

In an opinion piece published in the June 19 edition of Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail (, 6/19), Queens University philosophy professor and chair of bioethics and public policy Udo Schuklenk urges the continuation of vaccine trials despite recent failures.

“With the death toll standing at 25 million lives lost prematurely and 33 million people currently living with the disease, the unpleasant truth is that we have no choice other than to press ahead with trials,” Schuklenk writes. “I am not a great fan of Winston Churchill, but his famous remark, ‘Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never…’ seems to be the only appropriate response to this question in the age of AIDS.”

Schuklenk rebuts those who oppose continued vaccine and microbicide trials, such as Homayoon Khanlou and Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who argue that funding would be better spent on prevention testing and treatment. Schuklenk writes, “We will only ever know after a trial whether it has been futile…. Talk about pulling the plug on HIV vaccine and microbicide trials needs to end sooner than later.”

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