Spotlight: AIDS Vaccine

Apichart Weerawong / AP

A Thai technician tests blood taken from trial volunteers.

After a two-decade drought of good news, AIDS-vaccine researchers are finally dancing under the first raindrops of hope. It's not a downpour by any means or even a soaking shower, but it's something. At the end of a six-year vaccine field trial--the largest ever conducted--scientists have their first successful immunization against HIV.

But success, especially in science, is relative. Yes, as media reports immediately crowed, the vaccine was 31% effective at reducing the risk of HIV infection among the 16,000 healthy volunteers in the study. But that's nowhere near the 70%-to-80% rate that most public-health experts say is the minimum needed...

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