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HIV Vaccine

There is momentum and promise in the search for an HIV vaccine.

An effective preventive HIV vaccine would teach the body how to prevent HIV infection. Vaccines are the most powerful public health tools available—and an HIV vaccine would play a powerful role in ensuring the end to the AIDS epidemic.

While effective vaccines remain years away, there are more reasons for hope than ever before. Researchers are expanding on the result of a 2009 trial that showed, for the first time, that a vaccine can reduce the risk of HIV infection. They’re also pursuing groundbreaking research with other novel vaccine strategies, including broadly neutralizing antibodies that target a wide range of HIV strains. At the same time, there is also exciting work in efforts to understand if and how to cure HIV in people who are already infected. The timeline for this work is long and uncertain. Here, too, advocacy is needed to sustain momentum.

Today’s momentum depends on sustained funding. Policy makers and funders around the world must have the courage to sustain vital HIV vaccine research for years to come, and advocates must keep the pressure on them to maintain their commitments.

What We're Reading

“We have an answer – the regimen simply didn’t work. It feels really grim, though, today.” This was the immediate and heartfelt reaction of one of the principal investigators of the first large-scale HIV efficacy vaccine trial to be launched for nine years – only one of three such 'phase III' trials in the last decade – when I emailed her on 3 February. That was the day it was announced that the HVTN 702 (Uhambo) trial would close, as the experimental vaccine had no efficacy.

February 24, 2020

An HIV vaccine remains what South Africa and the world needs to prevent new HIV infections. This is in addition to a range of other HIV prevention tools that are available and in the pipeline. However, one of the HIV vaccine research studies, Uhambo (HVTN 702), has been stopped early because it was determined by an independent review body that it did not show a possibility to prevent HIV. This, for a moment, came as disappointing news; however, as South Africans we realise the search for a safe and effective HIV vaccine has to continue.

February 6, 2020
Daily Maverick
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