A new HIV vaccine that has the potential to save millions of lives around the world from the virus has shown promising results in a recent study. While the medication needs further testing, researchers are optimistic that the drug will provide immunity against multiple strains of the virus and can be used as a preventative measure in patients who aren’t already affected.
The BBC reports that an estimated 37 million people worldwide have HIV or Aids, and until now, scientists had yet to make a truly accessible breakthrough that will keep the virus from mutating and attacking our immune systems. The newly developed vaccine can help prevent HIV.
The truly special aspect of this new medication is that while other vaccinates treat certain strains of the virus, scientists used pieces from different HIV viruses to create this treatment. In using several different strains from around the world, scientists hope this drug will better protect patients from contracting the disease and will protect against several strains.
During the study, participants from Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, the US, and Uganda who do not have HIV, were given four vaccinations during a 48-week time period to test to determine the vaccine’s safety. All of the vaccine combinations produced an anti-HIV immune system response and were found to be safe.
“These results represent an important milestone,” said Dan Barouch, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study. While the vaccine triggered a response in the immune system of the people it was given to, it is not yet clear if this would be enough to fight off the virus and prevent infection.
Following the promising results from the first study, researchers will next test the medication on 2,600 women in Southern Africa to further assess the rates at which it’s able to prevent infection for those at risk.
Currently, only one in five vaccines have passed this round of trials. Although it’s still early to tell the full potential of the medication, Dr. Michael Brady, medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust said the results were “promising.” The medical community remains optimistic that they can develop a vaccine that will prevent the disease from spreading, and in the meantime, are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure only the safest of developments goes on the market.
Dr. Brady also added that patients can use existing methods to prevent the spread of HIV, including preventative treatments for those with HIV that will prevent the virus from spreading and contraception.