For nearly 40 years, the quest to find a safe and effective HIV vaccine has been on and researchers are one step closer.
This is great news because according to avert.org, the global statistics for people living with “HIV In 2016, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV (including 1.8 million children) – with a global HIV prevalence of 0.8% among adults. Around 30% of these same people do not know that they have the virus. Since the start of the epidemic, an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. In 2016, 1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.
“The vast majority of people living with HIV are located in low- and middle- income countries, with an estimated 25.5 million living in sub-Saharan Africa. Among this group 19.4 million are living in East and Southern Africa which saw 44% of new HIV infections globally in 2016.”
According to a study published in The Lancet there are promising results for a promising experimental vaccine.
Scientists say that most efforts have failed because the virus is able to rapidly mutate, making most vaccines ineffective.
Lead researcher and Scientist Dan Barouch from Harvard Medical School said the study was an “important milestone” in HIV research, but that the results should be interpreted with caution.
“We’re happy with the current results … but we can’t assume that this vaccine will work in humans,” Professor Barouch told The Health Report.
To test that theory, researchers will now take the vaccine to 2,600 women in southern Africa who are at risk of acquiring HIV.
“This is only the fifth HIV vaccine concept that will be tested for efficacy in humans in the 35-year history of the global epidemic,” Professor Barouch said.
The Mosaic HIV vaccine is one of only five experimental vaccines to make it this far since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began.
But it remains to be seen whether the vaccine will make it past the next step when it will be given to 2600 at risk women in Southern Africa.