Dr. Edward Jenner's somewhat unorthodox methods lead to the discovery of a smallpox vaccine circa 1796 which lead to the eventual eradication of smallpox by 1979.
A little history first:
On May 14, 1796, a milkmaid named Sarah Nelmes visited Dr. Jenner for the treatment of Cowpox. Dr. Jenner decided it was time to test his vaccination, and he tested it on his gardener's son, an eight-year-old boy named James Phipps. (He got the term "vacca" from the Latin word for "cow.") The boy did contract Cowpox, but he recovered from it within a few days. Dr. Jenner then waited eight weeks for the boy's body to build an immunity. To complete his experiment, Dr. Jenner exposed James to Smallopx. Amazingly, the boy did not contract the deadly disease, and the doctor claimed success.Now for the new stuff (from the Washignton Post:
The worldwide eradication of smallpox in the mid-20th century was a remarkable public health achievement, but it may have set the stage for the HIV pandemic of the latter half of the century, researchers reported Tuesday.
Laboratory tests suggested that immunity to smallpox triggered by the smallpox vaccine can inhibit the replication of the AIDS virus, the researchers said in the journal BMC Immunology.
Such vaccination could have kept HIV transmission partially under control in the early days of the outbreak, which is thought to have begun in the 1950s, but withdrawal of the smallpox vaccine, called vaccinia, starting at about the same time might have freed HIV to spread unfettered, the researchers said.
The results are preliminary and it is "far too soon to recommend the general use of vaccinia immunization for fighting HIV," said one of the researchers, Raymond S. Weinstein of the biodefense program at George Mason University's Prince William campus in Manassas.