Background: The Step Study tested whether an adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5)-vectored human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine could prevent HIV acquisition and/or reduce viral load set-point after infection. At the first interim analysis, nonefficacy criteria were met. Vaccinations were halted; participants were unblinded. In post hoc analyses, more HIV infections occurred in vaccinees vs placebo recipients in men who had Ad5-neutralizing antibodies and/or were uncircumcised. Follow-up was extended to assess relative risk of HIV acquisition in vaccinees vs placebo recipients over time.
Methods: We used Cox proportional hazard models for analyses of vaccine effect on HIV acquisition and vaccine effect modifiers, and nonparametric and semiparametric methods for analysis of constancy of relative risk over time.
Results: One hundred seventy-two of 1836 men were infected. The adjusted vaccinees vs placebo recipients hazard ratio (HR) for all follow-up time was 1.40 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.92; P= .03). Vaccine effect differed by baseline Ad5 or circumcision status during first 18 months, but neither was significant for all follow-up time. The HR among uncircumcised and/or Ad5-seropositive men waned with time since vaccination. No significant vaccine-associated risk was seen among circumcised, Ad5-negative men (HR, 0.97; P=1.0) over all follow-up time.
Conclusions: The vaccine-associated risk seen in interim analysis was confirmed but waned with time from vaccination.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00095576.