Skip to Main Content

Three years before launching an offshore herpes vaccine trial, an American researcher vaccinated patients in U.S. hotel rooms in brazen violation of U.S. law, a Kaiser Health News investigation has found.

Southern Illinois University associate professor William Halford administered the shots himself at a Holiday Inn Express and a Crowne Plaza Hotel that were a 15-minute drive from the researcher’s SIU lab. Halford injected at least eight herpes patients on four separate occasions in the summer and fall of 2013 with a virus that he created, according to emails from seven participants and interviews with one participant.

The 2013 experiments raise further questions of misconduct by Halford, who pursued a herpes vaccine for years while working at Southern Illinois University, which claims to have been unaware of his unorthodox research practices.


Halford, who died this summer from cancer, ran a clinical trial out of a house on St. Kitts in 2016 to test the experimental vaccine and did not alert U.S. or St. Kitts and Nevis authorities.

Following a KHN report that Halford completed the 2016 trial with no independent safety oversight, the Department of Health and Human Services demanded the university account for the research.


SIU, in an initial response to U.S. authorities, said the university’s institutional review board found “serious noncompliance with regulatory requirements and institutional policies and procedures.”

SIU, like many universities receiving federal research funds, pledged to follow U.S. standards for all clinical trials.

In 2013, Halford, who was a microbiologist not a physician, noted a need for secrecy in one email to a participant, writing that it would be “suicide” if he became too public about how he was conducting his research.

Many email exchanges with participants in 2013 — asking them to send photographs of rashes, blisters and other reactions — were sent from Halford’s university email account. He used the university phone for communication and he referred to a graduate student as assisting in the experiment and to using the lab.

  • So I have been following Halford’s research for years and always believed in him and only wanted defend him but the part that makes me raise an eyebrow is him injecting the hsv-1 guy with this and EVEN WORSE not informing him it’s a different virus!! That’s just appallingly negligent. He could have ruined his entire project based on that alone. Wtf! I really hope this research will continue but that’s so messed up. Particularly since the hsv-2 is usually much worse. He absolutely knew better.

    I am also disappointed to hear that it sounds less likely that this vaccine will work to immunize the uninfected. I do think it’s great if it can even just cure those already infected. It will change so many lives for the better. But as someone who only has hsv-1 I wish there were a vaccine to prevent me from getting hsv-2. It sounds like he increased the amount of virus later to make it more effective so I still have some hope.

  • It all fake news that FDA don’t want the cure for harpies as it is providing huge money for big pharmaceutical companies. MARISA TAYLOR don’t know much about Halford. Do you know how much time and money it takes to conduct a trail 15-20years and billions. Because of these region he conducted trails out side the U. S. Why can’t the FDA go on fast track to approve drugs Why can’t FDA restrecture so many harpies suffers were connected through out the world to Halford when he was doing the trail. No one trust the FDA. There are so many varient of harpies some people die in silence.

  • Sad this researcher had to resort to devious practices. What is needed is numerous researchers working on vaccines against the Herpes group of viruses. Many are listed as causative for certain cancers. Epstein-Barr should be first in line.

  • You must be joking Mike. Click on the story hyperlinks to the actual emails that Halford sent to the subjects he injected in 2013 using his SIU address and signature. That is as solid as a source can get. This is 2017, not the 1940s or 1950s. Regulations are in place for HUMAN SAFETY. This kind of ethical behavior by Halford and the private company along with the gross negligence and turning of a blind eye by SIU is simply not acceptable and needs to be brought to light. I commend the author for her hard work.

  • Please provide evidence of your sources??? there is nothing to back up your witch hunt on halfords work on rvx. You need to understand you are driving stigma of hsv with these evidenceless articles you are posting. millions and millions are infected and suffer every day and they all are in hope of a cure which the FDA is not letting happen which is sad for the world.

    • No, “Mike,” it’s clear that Halford preyed on the fear of the stigma that people with HSV experience, all to advance his own agenda. That’s what’s reprehensible. I’m absolutely horrified to read the details of this story.

Comments are closed.