HIV Vaccine

In light of the Holiday season and coming New Year we wanted to bring some positive news in this post. In today’s poor economy with near constant attacks on reproductive rights it can sometimes be overwhelming to work in a reproductive health atmosphere. Because of that we wanted to end this week on a more positive note. The US FDA has approved an HIV vaccine SAV001 for human testing starting in January 2012.A few other possible vaccines have already started the human testing phase but Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team of researchers doing something quite different with their vaccine and it could prove to be a very fruitful difference.

Up until now, potential vaccines have used fragments in the development of the vaccine. Though vaccines of this nature have proven effective against certain diseases, so far none have been successful at protecting against HIV. Dr. Kang is doing something very different. He went back to the very beginning of vaccination, when scientists used the whole virus and used chemicals and radiation to kill it. This method is how polio was eradicated. So far, no scientists have attempted this method to combat HIV though.

During the toxicology testing phase, the medication proved to have no severe side effects so they can now begin phase 1 of human testing. This phase will include a very small sample of about 40 people              who are already HIV positive for safety. Then they will move on the phase 2 which will have about 600 HIV negative people who are at high risk for transmission such as intravenous drug users. Phase 3 will have a control group and a vaccinated group and will have about 6000 subjects. Following phase 3 researchers will be able to tell whether SAV001 effectively prevents HIV transmission or not. Dr. Kang says if all goes well the vaccine could be on the market in as few as 5 years.

While an effective vaccine is not a cure for HIV/AIDS, it is a huge step towards eradicating transmission and would give hope to the millions of people who are at high risk due to parents or partners having HIV.  During times like this it is always nice to read about such promising steps forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Hopefully one day, scientist will be able to find not only an effective vaccine, but a cure for those already infected.



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