Three HIV Vaccines Currently in Clinical Trials Give Hope to the World

December 2, 2019

by Andreea Sterea

Could we really get the first HIV vaccine by 2021? Scientists believe so, as three HIV vaccines are currently in clinical trials. 

One of the Three HIV Vaccines May Restore Hope to Our World

Medicine evolved enough by now to offer AIDS patients a long and safe life. However, HIV is still one of the biggest health threats in the world. Scientists rush against time and odds to find an HIV vaccine that works and finally put a stop to this unforgivable curse

This is the first time in a very long time when HIV vaccines could actually show results more promising than they have ever showed before. 

The Three HIV Vaccines and Their Clinical Trials

The first vaccine is the HVTN 702. For medical experts in the field, it is not a new name. In fact, it is the oldest ongoing HIV vaccine trial. It began in South Africa in 2016 and it worked well. But not well enough. For a vaccine – any vaccine – to become a beacon of hope, it has to be at least 50% effective. The HVTN 702 showed one of the highest efficiency rates, but insufficient to make it to the global distribution network.

Nevertheless, scientists working on this vaccine did not lose hope. On the contrary, they want to make it stronger. An HIV vaccine with a 50-60% efficiency would add up to the already existing prevention methods and exposure prophylaxis. Thus, together, they would turn the epidemic around.

The medical world expects the first clinical results of the HVTN 702 vaccine by 2021.

What Are the Other Two HIV Vaccines Tested in Clinical Trials?

If the HVTN 702 is not quite a surprise, the other two HIV vaccines are less known outside the medical research field.

Imbokodo Vaccine

The Imbokodo HIV vaccine has been around for a while, but its second trial started back in 2017 in five southern African countries. It uses mosaic immunogens – the world’s best bet against HIV so far. The advantage of mosaic immunogens is that they can induce proper immune responses against a wide variety of global HIV strains. 

Mosaico Vaccine

Similar with Imbokodo, Mosaico also uses mosaic immunogens, offering broader protection against different strains of HIV. The newest entry in the research field, the clinical trial of Mosaico began this November. A notable difference between the two is their area of application. While Imbokodo is tested in Africa on women, Mosaico is being tested on gay men and transgender people in 57 locations across the United States, Europe, and Latin America. 

Both vaccines consist of six injections with slight variations in formula and administration. Experts expect to see the results of Imbokody in 2021 and of Mosaico in 2023.

According to Dr. Susan Buchbinder, director of the Bridge HIV research program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, these three HIV vaccines clinical trials are

“Perhaps one of the most optimistic moments we have been in. We have three vaccines currently being tested in efficacy trials and it takes quite a bit to actually be promising enough in the earlier stages stages of trials to move you forward into an efficacy study.

What Should We Expect from the Three HIV Vaccines Clinical Trials’ Results?

While scientists understand that all three HIV vaccines could fail in terms of efficiency, they are still hopeful. It is true that HIV infection rates are dropping and that treatment and prevention methods work well. Nevertheless, to put an end to the unforgivable curse that were (and still are) HIV and AIDS, science needs to up its ante and find a vaccine.

With the first results coming in late 2020 or early 2021, we can only hope cutting-edge medicine will make a small miracle again and get the world rid of this disease.

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