The AIDS Vaccine: None in Sight: What Now?

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  • The most recent AIDs vaccine trials have not yielded success, in terms of discovering a vaccine that can prevent the AIDs infection, so health officials are looking for other ways to maximize use of already proven therapies.  And they are hoping to use them as prevention opportunities.


    What do we already have?  Well, if an AIDs positive mother gives birth to a child, antiretrovirals can be used to prevent transmission of AIDs to the babies; it can also help to prevent AIDs transmission to healthcare workers.  Seven trials are now ongoing (3 conducted by the CDC) to investigate if pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can be achieved using either tenovofir by itself or tenovofir plus emtricitabine, particularly when it comes to sexual intercourse or to drug use. 

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    This area of research shows promise because we can now do once a day dosing and side effects are far more tolerable.  This area of research is called "combination prevention" and it's a nod to "combination treatment" which was an actual catch phrase from a decade ago.  Since the choices right now are - to be hopeful or in despair over this lack of achievement in AIDs vaccine research, researchers feel the best approach is to look at what is available and somehow make it work - for new applications. 


    Researchers also want public health officials to make giving care to AIDs patients a priority, since the earlier you get treatment, the  lower the viral load and the better the long term prognosis of that patient (see my earlier blog on this).  So those working in these research areas say that "AIDs testing" needs to reach out and needs to be available and affordable.  They believe that HIV vaccine is "the challenge for this generation of scientists."

Published On: November 08, 2008