Significant progress made towards AIDS vaccine

After decades of trying to develop a vaccine against AIDS, global health authorities are finally beginning to make "significant advances" towards their goal, Anthony Fauci, head of the US institute of infectious diseases, told AFP.

"Up to a few years ago, even though we have been trying for a couple of decades to develop a vaccine, unsuccessfully, we have not even had a small clue that we were going in the right direction," Fauci told AFP.

But two key events that have taken place in the past few years have changed that and led to "significant advances in the development of a vaccine," said Fauci, who is head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).

The first of those key turning-point events was a clinical trial of an HIV/AIDS vaccine which was conducted last year in Thailand on 16,000 people.

"The results showed a small to modest positive effect on the acquisition of HIV - not good enough to be able to distribute a vaccine but good enough to tell us that it was a conceptual advance that at least makes us feel now that a vaccine is possible," Fauci said.

Then, last week, scientists at NIAID published a paper in the journal Science about research that had helped them to identify two antibodies in an HIV-positive individual, which, when put together "block 90 percent" of HIV strains, Fauci said.

"What that is telling us is that you can identify the portion of the virus that you would like to use as a vaccine, because we know that when the antibodies bind to that portion, it knock down the virus," he said.

The next step will be to try to inject that part of the virus into an individual to produce a protective response against HIV infection, said Fauci in an interview with AFP days before the 18th international conference on AIDS, to be held in Vienna, Austria.

The Thai study and the report in Science have left scientists feeling "much more confident that ultimately we will have a vaccine" against HIV/AIDS, although it was still impossible to say exactly when that would be, said Fauci.

An AIDS vaccine was probably several years away, which means that in the meantime, the fight against HIV/AIDS must continue to focus on prevention and use tried and true tactics such as condom distribution, male circumcision, blocking mother-to-baby transmission and offering syringe exchange programs, he said.

Ways have to be found, too, to improve access to these preventive measures, especially in developing countries where only 20 percent of "populations who would benefit" actually have access to them, he added.

Along with improving access to the preventive methods, Fauci urged global health authorities and governments to continue to work to develop other forms of prevention, such as microbicides.

And he recommended "treating as many people as we possibly can because we know that when you treat more people, you lessen the probability that they would infect other people.

"You could almost have what we call treatment as a form of prevention," until a vaccine is finally developed, said Fauci.

js/kdz/mdl

 

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

    £16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

    KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits