After the positive results of a 2015 trial, an HIV vaccine will be tested in South Africa in November. The news was announced at the 21st International AIDS Conference, in Durban, South Africa, after the 2015 trial results were presented Tuesday.
The AIDS Conference seeks to bring together people who live with HIV and especially policy makers to end the virus’s spread in Africa and around the world. The 2016 trial involves 5,400 people across four cities in South Africa. The study will last three years, and five doses of the vaccine will be given to prolonged its protection against the HIV.
CNN quoted Bekker saying her team hopes that their vaccine would be the first one to be licensable in the world. And even though she knows it is unlikely to come up with the last vaccine, she hopes the results of the 2016 trial will provide enough evidence to manufacture the final solution.
CNN reports that in 2015, 2.1 million new infections were reported, and two-thirds of those cases occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
— Laura Helmuth (@laurahelmuth) July 16, 2016
The work behind the 2016 HIV vaccine trial
The 2015 trial, known as HVTN100, took place in South Africa. The goal was to test the vaccine’s safety and strength provided to the subjects. For the trials, 52 healthy volunteers received the ALVAC-HIV/gp120 vaccine or a placebo randomly, to compare the immune response generated, CNN reports.
The purpose of the trial was to prove its worth before testing it a larger scale in affected populations. Gail-Bekker said that the 2015 test were precautionary to see if the vaccine was promising. And it proved to be worth it.
But the HVTN100 trial was not an innovation; it is the outcome of the positive results of a Thai study carried out in 2009. The milestone in the HIV research was the first study that showed any protection against HIV. According to CNN, the trial proved 31 percent of protection against the virus, and that was enough to start new researches after years of unfortunate results. The study in Thailand showed 60 percent protection against HIV after one year, but it fell to 31 percent at the end of the trial.
CNN reports that the scientist involved in the 2009 research hopes that the new regime will bring higher protection levels After the study in Thailand, the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Anthony Fauci, whose organization sponsored the Thai study, wonder if it was possible to replicate and improve those results.
The vaccine was improved to be used in South Africa, where a different subtype of the virus exists. Gail Bekker says that they have used specific inserts from viruses that have come off the subcontinent. The adjuvant will stimulate stronger immunity. To assess the vaccine’s effectiveness four criteria were set, including the level of T-cell and antibody response to fight the virus if it were to infect, says CNN.
Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, thinks that prevention is not as useful as a vaccine. But others believe that finding a vaccine will be not enough to fight the virus and prevention, and social actions must be used along the vaccine to eradicate HIV.
The Champions program and the political stand against HIV
Former African leaders and activists believed that leadership was essential to fight HIV, but it needed the support of communities and religious organizations to be useful.
The Champions program for an Aids-free generation was founded in 2008 by Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana. Champions aim to ensure that children grow in Africa HIV-free and seeks to guarantee to all Africans equal access to HIV prevention and treatment.
— South African Gov (@GovernmentZA) June 15, 2016
SABC reports that on Tuesday, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, as a representative of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, said that collaboration is essential to fight Aids and HIV. Political leadership helps to guide society and to shape law and how people react to those requirements. But political leadership is not sufficient on its own. Pandor continued and said that what is needed is the creation of a human rights culture to protect men and women, the poor and the marginalized because everyone must have equal access to health care.
Charlize Theron opening speech at the 21st International AIDS Conference: ‘It’s time to acknowledge that something is terribly wrong.’
On Monday, at the beginning of the 2016 International AIDS Conference, Charlize Theron said in an opening speech that HIV is suffered mostly by a particular group of people due to social problems. She said that because society values men more than women, straight love more than gay love, white skin more than black skin, and the rich more than the poor, AIDS is highly suffered by minorities.
“We single out the vulnerable, the oppressed and the abused. We ignore them; we let them suffer, and then we let them die.”
She urged people to face the truth about the injustice that world lives in, because the fact is, according to Theron, that we have every tool to prevent the spread of HIV, but we have not beaten the virus because of discrimination. Charlize Theron is an AIDS activists and founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project.
— Charlize Theron (@CharlizeAfrica) July 19, 2016