Trials to test a potential HIV vaccine are to be launched in South Africa this Wednesday. The study, HVTN 702, will enroll over 5,000 sexually active South African adults and has been described by some senior health officials as what might be a 'final nail in the coffin' for the disease.
The vaccine being tested in the trial is a modified version of a previously tested drug known as RV144, which was tested in 2009 and was found to protect against HIV infection in 30% of cases. That drug, itself, was a combination of two other drugs, Aidsvax and ALVAC, the former of which had previously failed to pass its own vaccine trial.
The vaccine to be used in the HVTN trial consists of two vaccine molecules; one based in a canarypox vector and another designed to amplify the immune response to that initial canarypox-based vaccine.
Study volunteers will be assigned either the vaccine or placebo, and then offered standards of care for preventing HIV infection. The incidence of HIV infection in each group will then be noted. Results for the trial are expected in 2020.