Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Journey Continues for a HIV Vaccine

The Journey Continues for a HIV Vaccine (**note: sorry that this article is similar to Muzz's post! I found this article last night and wrote my post on the plane this afternoon! Between landing and uploading my post, Muzz posted his! So sorry about this**!)

Participants in South Africa are currently being recruited for a full-scale human trial vaccine for the AIDS Virus. Researchers are hoping to recruit ~5,400 people between 18-35 that are HIV negative and sexually active to receive the HIV vaccine. The study is being organized by the US Military HIV Research Program and the Medical Research Council in Durban, South Africa.

South Africa was not a random place to choose participants; rather, it is a country wrought by HIV. Over 7 million people have the AIDS virus in the country, and many people have family members and friends who either live with or have died from the virus.

This HIV trial vaccine is based off of a 2012 HIV trial vaccine on 16,000 people in Thailand. This Thailand trial vaccine was only 31% effective, and the vaccine wore off over time; nevertheless, researchers are optimistic that they found a ”chink in HIV’s armor” in this Thai trial run, which has been improved upon in this South African trial. One of the reasons why its so had to develop a vaccine for HIV is because the virus puts its genetic material INTO the infected persons’ DNA – this is different to how other viruses act!

If the vaccine is 50-60% (or of course more!!) effective, the article describes how the vaccine would begin to be licensed in South Africa (and perhaps across the globe in countries where HIV is very prevalent). Although this percent efficacy might seem low, this 50% efficacy would still be very impactful in reducing transmission.

Many participants in this trial run are people who have had family members and friends who have suffered with the virus, and therefore want to play a piece in the puzzle of  preventing others from suffering from the same dreadful disease. I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact that this trial vaccine hopefully has!

-- Ashley Jowell

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