The news that an experimental AIDS vaccine tested on 16,000 heterosexual volunteers in Thailand had been shown to be safe and modestly effective surprised researchers, who had become used to failure in the decades-long effort to find a vaccine to protect against HIV infection.
The elusive search for a vaccine has its roots in the Bay Area, where one of the two genetically engineered vaccines used in the Thai trial was developed.
The trial relied on a combination of a modified canary-pox vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur and a drug made from an engineered version of a protein found on the AIDS virus, which was made by a Brisbane biotechnology company called VaxGen Inc. The patent for the VaxGen vaccine is now owned by Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, a nonprofit in South San Francisco.
In 1985 when then President Ronald Reagan finally publicly mentioned the word after famous people like Rock Hudson died, I remember the anger I had towards him and the bigoted ignorance of people.
In 1987 there was a TV show on a then fledgling network called FOX called 21 Jump Street starring Johnny Depp that tried to address the issue of a young high schooler that was living with AIDS and dying from it.
In 1989 I had a friend that I knew briefly that had passed away at 25 of AIDS. Two other friends named Dan and David also passed away before I reached the age of 21.
Reading news like this gives all of us hope that those that are gone are in a better place, their memory is not forgotten and we will find a way to kill this monster that has waged a war against us for decades..