Vaccines for Prevention

Vaccines are a powerful public health tool and the bedrock of sustainable epidemic control.

Vaccines are a powerful public health tool and the bedrock of sustainable epidemic control.

The Role of Vaccines in Prevention


A safe, effective and accessible HIV vaccine is urgently needed to provide a durable end to the pandemic. Designing a vaccine against HIV is exceptionally challenging, given the complicated and ever-changing nature of the virus. Still, much progress has been made, with research providing more and more clues on the best approaches. Ending AIDS requires simultaneous action on multiple fronts of research, development and delivery. AVAC continues to advocate for HIV vaccine R&D, expanded access to existing prevention options, and development of new user-centered prevention strategies. Read our HIV vaccine factsheet for an update on vaccine research enterprise.

Other STIs

The development of vaccines, and other biomedical interventions such as diagnostics and pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, could invigorate efforts to address the global problem of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Vaccines currently exist for two common STIs – HPV and hepatitis B. While there are cures for some STIs (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis), many STI infections go undiagnosed and untreated, either because they cause few or no symptoms or because diagnostics remain difficult to access. 


Vaccines have played an important role in reducing the severity of COVID-19 infections. Research on vaccines that reduce disease or block transmission is ongoing, as is the development of novel technology for vaccines against COVID-19.

The Research Pipeline

One phase IIb HIV vaccine trial is ongoing, The PrEPVacc trial. Participants are randomized to receive one of two experimental vaccines in combination with oral PrEP. Both vaccine candidates been tested before but did not advance to late-stage trials on their own. PrEPVacc is testing if they work better if combined with PrEP. If PrEPVacc finds an efficacy signal, it will show proof-of-concept for a T-cell vaccine strategy.

Overall, HIV vaccine research is recalibrating. The field is analyzing the implications of several major trials that tested strategies that did not work. New strategies are focusing on two aspects of the immune system, broadly neutralizing antibodies and T-cells, in early phase research. New trial designs and technology advances with mRNA vaccine platforms, successfully used during the COVID-19 pandemic, are innovations that may help to speed vaccine R&D in the years ahead. For more information see AVAC’s HIV vaccine factsheet.


Vaccines currently exist for only two common STIs – HPV and hepatitis B – with research underway for vaccines against gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia and others. Go to to learn more.


Research and development is ongoing to develop next generation vaccines against coronaviruses, and its COVID-19 strains. Current vaccines are expected to see reduced efficacy overtime and preparing for new coronaviruses is imperative. Get the latest on the pipeline from the WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker and from the COVID-NMA initiative’s living mapping tool.

The full portfolio of vaccines in development by The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) address Coronaviruses, HIV and more. Search the CEPI portfolio here.

Vaccine Access, HIV, STIs, COVID and Beyond

The COVID pandemic made stark long-standing disparities in access to life-saving interventions, when rich countries and communities benefited from vaccines while low and middle income countries and communities struggled through much of the pandemic without them. HIV advocates have called out such disparities for decades. Research and development, despite the scientific hurdles, is less politically complex than questions of access, which must rise to the top of the agenda for advocates, policy-makers and funders alike. Sustained, robust advocacy for access is core to equity in global health. 

In addition, well-resourced, evidence-based proactive strategies must be in place to out maneuver misinformation and disinformation, and to redress vaccine hesitancy. This advocacy is vital for vaccines, against HIV, COVID, STIs and other health threats.

Vaccine Advocacy


Vaccine strategies currently being explored have a long way to go and support for these efforts is essential. Advocacy for Good Participatory Practice in research and development is as important as ever. Sustained funding for vaccine R&D is also a key priority for advocacy.


STI vaccine R&D must accelerate. A history of underfunding this crucial area of public health must end. Advocates, researchers, affected communities, policy-makers and funders should be making connections, embracing Good Participatory Practice and prioritizing STI vaccine development and implementation. 


With next generation coronavirus vaccine development underway, public funding for these efforts can speed innovation. Such investment must be matched with political commitments to equitably deliver products that prove successful. 

Vaccine Research and Global Health Equity

Vaccine development has cascading benefits across public health.  Advances against one health thread inform research against others. But tremendous scientific progress against viruses such as HIV and COVID-19 must be matched with global commitments to deliver proven vaccines, and other critical health tools for diagnosis, prevention and treatment, to the world’s most vulnerable populations, no matter where they live.  It’s imperative to reach global commitments that will fully support health systems and empower all countries to equitably contribute and share in the fruits of science.

Track the Research

HIV Prevention Research & Development Database (PxRD)

The database allows users to view clinical trials around the world, gaining an understanding of the many developments currently being made in the field of HIV prevention research.

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