HIV vaccine trial currently underway in South Africa

The first large-scale clinical trial of a vaccine that could potentially prevent the transmission of HIV was recently launched in South Africa. The goal of this four-year study is to immunize three thousand sexually active men and women between the ages of 18 and 35.

The first large-scale clinical trial of a vaccine that could potentially prevent the transmission of HIV was recently launched in South Africa. The goal of this four-year study is to immunize three thousand sexually active men and women between the ages of 18 and 35.

While half the volunteers will receive the HIV vaccine, the other half will be injected with a placebo. They will all receive condoms and advice about safe sex practices that can help in preventing the transmission of the virus.

This vaccine has already proven safe in smaller studies. Furthermore, it only contains three of the HIV genes and not the whole virus, so volunteers do not run the risk of becoming infected by the vaccine. Scientists are hoping that exposure to these genes via the injection will enable the volunteers’ immune systems to quickly recognize HIV infected cells and destroy them.

Researchers are hoping to prove the vaccine can be useful in decreasing the transmission of HIV in a heterosexual population, more specifically the C strain of the virus, which is the subtype most prevalent in South Africa.

In addition, this clinical trial will answer many scientific questions pertaining to the development of an HIV vaccine. Even if the results prove the efficacy of the vaccine, further studies will have to be conducted before it can be licensed. Although vaccine development is a long and complex process, this new trial is an additional step in the fight to stop the spread of HIV.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

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