Test for HIV Vaccine Shows A Lot of Promise
Widespread reports say Sub-Saharan Africa has the most serious HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world. According to Avert.org, “in 2013 in Sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 24.7 million people were living with HIV, accounting for 71% of the global total. In the same year, there were an estimated 1.5 million new HIV infections and 1.1 million AIDS-related deaths.” Staggering right? I agree. It’s also sad and begging a solution.
Well, seems good news is here — a new vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is being tested in South Africa and scientists say this test is the first large study of an HIV vaccine’s effectiveness since 2009. This is the first HIV vaccine study to launch anywhere in seven years! Why conduct the test in South Africa? Well, a study of this magnitude requires a large enough sample size — in other words, a large number of people suffering from the disease. Given that statistics show about seven million people in South Africa living with the virus, the trial is taking place there.
Researchers have searched for a vaccine for the HIV virus since it was first discovered but all attempts so far have proven unsuccessful. The hope with this study is that the vaccine, being tested, will signal the death of HIV by proving successful in preventing the transmission of the disease. Keeping fingers crossed. This new vaccine is based on the version of the only HIV vaccine ever shown to provide some protection against the virus, a protection rate of 30%. This new strain of the vaccine has been adapted to the HIV subtype prevalent in southern Africa and the objective, of using this new strain, is to provide more sustained protection than the strain’s ancestor ever did. Here’s hoping that the protection rate this time around is higher and that any secondary effects (if any), as a result of the vaccine, are safe and non-crippling. Results from South Africa are expected in four years.
Trial participants, aimed at 5,400 men and women in total, are being selected at random to either receive the vaccine or a placebo, but all participants will receive a total of five injections over a period of one year. This trial is one of many HIV prevention trials in progress in southern Africa and sponsored by the United States National Institute of Health.