Yesterday, I pointed out that David Barton tried to prove his belief that God would not allow researchers to find a vaccine for HIV by misrepresenting research on the subject. Barton first pointed to a successful vaccine trial (RV144) but then led his audience to believe RV144 was halted by showing them a headline announcing that another study (HVTN505) had been stopped by the NIH. In fact, as I demonstrated, RV144 was deemed safe and modestly effective (see that post for video of Barton’s slight of hand).
Curious about the current science involving RV144, I wrote to the NIH to learn the status of the program. As it turns out, a new development was reported by the NIH in February of this year involving the vaccine Barton said was halted. From the 2/18/15 NIH press release:
NIH-Sponsored HIV Vaccine Trial Launches in South Africa
Early-Stage Trial Aims to Build on RV144 Results
(View larger image. HVTN laboratory staff Nomzamo Tabata (left) and Owethu Mahali process specimens at The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. Credit: Brooke Auchincloss)
A clinical trial called HVTN 100 has been launched in South Africa to study an investigational HIV vaccine regimen for safety and the immune responses it generates in study participants. This experimental vaccine regimen is based on the one tested in the U.S. Military HIV Research Program-led RV144 clinical trial in Thailand—the first study to demonstrate that a vaccine can protect people from HIV infection. The HVTN 100 vaccine regimen was designed to provide greater protection than the RV144 regimen and has been adapted to the HIV subtype that predominates in southern Africa. The results of the HVTN 100 trial, expected in two years, will help determine whether or not this vaccine regimen will be tested for efficacy in a large future study in South Africa.“A safe and effective HIV vaccine is essential to reach a timely, sustained end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. “The launch of HVTN 100 marks an important step forward in building upon the promising results of the RV144 trial to produce an HIV vaccine that could have a significant public health impact in southern Africa, where the HIV/AIDS pandemic is most pervasive.”
So Barton was not only wrong to mislead Charis Bible College students by using one study to claim something false about another study, he failed to tell them that progress is being made currently toward the creation of a vaccine. Who will reeducate them? They are now ill-equipped to discuss these issues intelligently with their congregations. It is hard to calculate how many people they will mislead as a result.