Experimental HIV vaccine “deeply disappoints” in South Africa trial

February 7, 2020

An experimental vaccine trial of some 5,000 people in South Africa has just been stopped by The National Institutes of Health (NIH) as it found the jab did not prevent the HIV virus that causes the deadly acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The HVTN 702 trial involved the most promising HIV-vaccine yet – it was first shown to provide some protection against a particular strain of the virusin the RV144 clinical trial in Thailand; and was subsequently adapted to the subtype most common in South Africa, which has one of the highest HIV rates in the world.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, from the NIH, was disappointed, “Regrettably, this vaccine does not work.” However, “research continues on other approaches to a safe and effective HIV vaccine,” which Dr. Fauci still believes can be achieved. This follows his review of patients in the HVTN 702 trial who were still susceptible to HIV/AIDS despite being given the vaccine.

An effective HIV vaccine does not contain HIV nor pose any danger of giving HIV to its recipient.Alongside recent breakthroughs in anti-retroviral treatments that have improved the lifespan of people with HIV, a drug treatment called pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep) seems effective in preventing HIV infection but, unlike a vaccine, it needs to be taken daily. In countries where such treatments may not be available, the only effective prevention remains using condoms during sexual intercourse or outright abstinence.

Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy at British charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) said, “Regular testing, condoms, Prep and effective treatment means people living with HIV can’t pass on the virus – it’s vital we seize this opportunity to end the HIV epidemic.”


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