Researchers announced today that a preventive vaccine has provided new hope in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
A vaccine has provided new hope in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Researchers announced today that an experimental vaccine stopped HIV infection during a recent trial in Thailand, involving more than 16,000 volunteers. According to the Associated Press, the injection reduced the risk of infection by more than 31 percent.
The vaccine was given in two parts: The first shot readies the immune system to attack the HIV, and the second one boosts the body’s response. The shot is comprised of ALVAC and AIDSVAX, but neither is made from complete forms of the virus, patients can’t be infected.
ALVAC, constructed from a modified bird virus, works by bringing three artificial version virus genes into the body. AIDSVAX has an altered protein found on the surface of HIV.
The study was done by The Thailand Ministry of Public Health, but it only utilized strains of the virus that are common to Thailand. It’s not known whether the vaccine would work on other HIV types in places outside of the country.
But scientists are still hopeful. "It’s the first evidence that we could have a safe and effective preventive vaccine," said Col. Jerome Kim, one of the study’s leaders. Previous trials had many researchers that such a treatment might never be found. Although this is wonderful news, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has said these findings are just the beginning.
"It gives me cautious optimism about the possibility of improving this result" he said. "This is something that we can do." Dr. Anthony also said the findings also offer encouragement that scientists may someday create a more effective vaccine for AIDS.
In public statement, Mitchell Warren of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition called the results a “historic milestone,” adding, "It will take time and resources to fully analyze and understand the data, but there is little doubt that this finding will energize and redirect the AIDS vaccine field."
– Sonya Eskridge