Metro Weekly

HIV vaccine trial launched, 40 years after virus first detected

The vaccine has been developed to target a "broad range" of HIV variants

Hiv vaccine
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Forty years after the first cases of HIV were detected in the United States, a trial for a new vaccine has been launched.

The University of Oxford has announced commencement of a phase 1 trial of a newly developed vaccine, HIVconsvX,  as part of efforts to finally end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The vaccine involves two shots, spaced four weeks apart, and is designed to target a “broad range” of HIV variants by inducing the immune system’s T cells to target highly conserved and vulnerable areas of the virus, PharmaTimes reports.

Thirteen people will participate in the trial, part of the European Aids Vaccine Initiative, with participants aged between 18 and 65 and not considered at high risk of infection.

“An effective HIV vaccine has been elusive for 40 years. This trial is the first in a series of evaluations of this novel vaccine strategy in both HIV-negative individuals for prevention and in people living with HIV for cure,” Tomáš Hanke, lead researcher and professor of vaccine immunology at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, said.

“There is strong evidence that undetectable HIV viral load prevents sexual transmission. Nevertheless, the pace of decline in new HIV infections failed to reach the Fast-Track Target agreed upon by the United Nations General Assembly in 2016: fewer than 500,000 new infections per year in 2020,” he added.

“Even in the broader context of increasing antiretroviral treatment and prevention, an HIV-1 vaccine remains the best solution and likely a key component to any strategy ending the AIDS epidemic.”

The first phase of the trial will take place in the United Kingdom, with results expected by April 2022. Future trials are planned for the U.S., as well as Europe and Africa.

Related:

The 40-Year-Long Fight: HIV Experts on Four Decades of the Epidemic

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