Researchers have produced the world’s first effective HIV vaccine.
The vaccine, which combined two previously tested and ineffective vaccines, reduced HIV infection rates by 30 percent.
Of 16,000 volunteers tested in the Thai-based, American-funded study, 74 placebo recipients became infected with HIV, compared with just 51 among the group who received the true vaccine.
The results are commendable, but unlikely to lead to a vaccine fit for wide public use, AFAO CEO Don Baxter said.
“It’s good that we have now had a vaccine that shows some efficacy, I think it will renew investment in vaccines, but we shouldn’t be expecting this one to be made available,” he told Sydney Star Observer.
“It’s only very partial, it’s only 30 percent effective, so we need to be very cautious. We certainly wouldn’t want to be rolling out this vaccine, or any vaccine at a 30 percent efficacy rate.
“A vaccine will have an impact on behaviour, and a number of people would stop using condoms and we’d probably end up with more HIV infections — so we really need a vaccine that’s around 70-80 percent effective.”
Dr Donald Francis, a researcher involved with the project, called the results “an encouraging step forward”.
“This trial will provide researchers with valuable data and insights to continue the development of a vaccine that can hopefully one day eradicate this terrible disease,” Francis said.
Baxter said the next step would be to increase understanding of how the vaccine worked.
“The doctors and scientists themselves are quite puzzled about how it has actually worked, particularly as the two agents that have been joined together, when they were tested separately, had no effect.
“The scientists involved need to analyse it in much more detail, and it may point to new areas of research. On the other hand, we have to remember these vaccines were developed more than six years ago, so in a sense some of the science has moved on from these particular agents.
“I suspect that while further study of this one may lead to some new directions or improved directions for research, we can’t say with confidence that we will.”

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