HIV pandemic continues to be one of the greatest global health problems involving nearly 40 million HIV-positive people. Almost 3 million include children.
AIDS is no more so dangerous virus
Despite global efforts of thousands of health professionals and community organizations, there is still no cure for HIV infection and AIDS caused by it. Cocktails of antiviral drugs are the furthest we got so far, but these medications can only keep the illness controlled for some time. Although a lot has been succeeded in increasing number of people receiving these drugs, most experts agree that highly effective HIV vaccine is the only thing that would stop this devastating pandemic finally.
Thus, May 18 is pronounced to be AIDS Vaccine Awareness Day as an opportunity to thank thousands of people involved within researches and attempts to find a safe preventive vaccine. It is also a great chance to raise awareness and educate people about HIV.
HIV-Human Immunodeficiency Virus
The most severe HIV / AIDS epidemic still in Sub – Saharan Africa
The global statistics show that 70% of the total HIV-positive people live in this region, with only half of them being aware they are sick. Epidemics are generalized, but key affected groups remain:
- Young women
- Sex workers
- Intravenous drug addicts
- MSM population (men who have sex with men)
Many prevention programs and strategies, including condom distribution, harm reduction, prevention of mother to child transmission, failed to achieve radical reduction of HIV epidemics, mostly due to many economic, legal, social, religious and cultural obstacles. So, everything came down to AIDS vaccination again, and the latest news may have finally brought some hope.
High hopes for HIV vaccine trial in South Africa
This country is often considered “epicenter” of HIV pandemic and accordingly, it was chosen for large – scale HIV vaccine trial announced by National Institutes of Health on May 18, 2016. The trial will start in November, and the first results are expected in 2020.
This early – stage HIV vaccine trial provided clear proves that vaccine was safe and partially effective and gave motives for executions of the larger clinical trial. So far, the vaccine was found to be 30% effective in protecting from HIV infection after four years and 60% effective after one year after injection. This big experimental vaccine regimen, HVTN 702, will include 5400 HIV-uninfected adults ages 18 to 35 and the volunteers will form groups that will receive tested vaccine or placebo. The HVTN 702 vaccine is specifically adjusted to HIV subtype C, the most frequent subtype of virus in this area and it consists of two vaccines. The total dose is divided into five injections, including booster shot so that the trial participants will receive it completely within one year.
So far, this vaccine has been the most effective way of protection against HIV infection we’ve managed to create. If this trial succeeds in increasing its potentials in the strength of protection and durability of protection, it could officially mark the beginning of the ending chapter of several decades’ long fight with HIV pandemic.