Four Forward-Looking Guidance Points
Developing World Bioethics 2001 November; 1(2): 121-134
Four key guidance points in the UNAIDS guidance document, Ethical Considerations in HIV Preventive Vaccine Research, are compared with analogous statements in three other recently issued documents dealing with international research. Those documents are: the Declaration of Helsinki, as revised in 2000; the report of the U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission, issued in 2001; and a current (2001) draft revision of the 1993 CIOMS International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects. The four guidance points compared with statements on similar issues in the other three documents are Guidance Point 2, which deals with making available a safe and effective vaccine after trials are completed; the second half of Guidance Point 4, which requires that the desired outcome should potentially benefit the population from which research participants are drawn; Guidance Point 11, which discusses what should be provided to a control group in a vaccine trial; and Guidance Point 16, which addresses the care and treatment to be provided for trial participants who become infected with HIV during the trial. The analysis and comparison concludes that the UNAIDS guidance points are at least as ethically sound as analogous points in these other documents, and for the most part are ethically superior in providing greater benefits to research participants and to others. Nevertheless, they are subject to the criticism that they are too `aspirational' and not sufficiently `pragmatic'.