According to a study published in The Lancet journal, researchers in the United States have stated that a new vaccine being developed against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Diseases (AIDS), has cleared the first stage of tests.
In this phase of tests, the vaccine was found to produce an immune response against HIV in humans and also protected tested monkeys against the infection, when exposed to a virus similar to HIV.
It will now be tested in 2600 women in southern Africa, in an effort to determine whether the vaccine does prevent the onset of AIDS.
Dan Barouch, Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, who was in charge of the study, stated that these results should be interpreted cautiously.
“The challenges in the development of an HIV vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to induce HIV-specific immune responses does not necessarily indicate that a vaccine will protect humans from HIV infection. We eagerly await the results of the phase 2b efficacy trial, which will determine whether or not this vaccine will protect humans against acquiring HIV," Barouch said.
While the HIV epidemic has plagued humanity for over 30 years, only 4 vaccines have ever been tested on humans, of which only one has showed any promise with an HIV prevention rate of 31%. However, as this was still considered a low rate of success, the vaccine was not developed any further.
Globally, it has been estimated that over 35 million people were living with HIV in 2016 alone out of which over 2 million were reported to be children.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that only a little over half of these people had access to antiretroviral drugs, which are given to individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS in 2016.