(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Scientists are hopeful that a vaccination against the HIV could be in sight after tests on hundreds of adults and animals showed ‘promising’ results.
The vaccine could have the potential to protect people around the world from the threat of the virus.
Tests on a new drug stopped two thirds of monkeys contracting a virus similar to HIV and boosted an anti-HIV immune system response in 400 healthy adults, according to the study in The Lancet.
More tests will now need to take place to determine if the immune response produced can prevent HIV infection in people. About 37 million people worldwide live with HIV or Aids, and there are an estimated 1.8 million new cases every year.
But despite advances in treatment for HIV, a cure or vaccine against the virus has never been found.
The drug Prep, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is effective at preventing HIV infection, but, unlike a vaccine, it needs to be taken regularly, even daily, to prevent the virus from taking hold.
It is hoped the new vaccine would offer much better protection against the almost unlimited number of HIV strains found across the world. Just four HIV vaccines have ever been tested on humans, making this current test an ‘important milestone’ according to the scientist leading the study.
But Dan Barouch, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, added: ‘The challenges in the development of an HIV vaccine are unprecedented, and the ability to induce HIV-specific immune responses does not necessarily indicate that a vaccine will protect humans from HIV infection.’