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The latest on an HIV vaccine

The latest on an HIV vaccine
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Many scientists are undeterred in the effort to prevent HIV without a lifetime of medication.

It’s back to the drawing board for a potential HIV vaccine as the latest study on such a prevention was halted after showing little chance for success.

The study, known as PrEPVacc, involved 1,513 participants in the nations of Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa, all of which are heavily impacted by HIV. Researchers with PrEPVacc stated at the recent International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa that their trial “has stopped further vaccinations as there is little or no chance of the trial demonstrating vaccine efficacy in preventing HIV acquisition.”

“We have come so far in our HIV prevention journey, but we must look to a new generation of vaccine approaches and technology to take us forward again,” stated PrEPVacc chief investigator Pontiano Kaleebu, MD, PhD.

The PrEPVACC trial included two different vaccine regimens, with participants also taking a PrEP pill, according to Poz.

Some participants were given a potential, previously tested vaccine known as AIDSVAX paired with a DNA vaccine; others were given these two potential vaccines in addition to a third potential vaccine; a third group of participants received placebo injections.

While the potential vaccines proved unsuccessful in preventing HIV, the PrEP aspect of the study will continue as it compared two different preventative regimens — Truvada and Descovy. Truvada is already approved in the U.S. for all individuals, while Descovy is not prescribed to cisgender women or those at risk for infection due to vaginal sex. PrEPVacc’s study, with cisgender women making up nearly 90 percent of participants, will be specifically useful in studying Descovy’s use in this population.

After the PrEPVacc announcement in December, the International AIDS Society called for more resources for additional vaccine research and development.

“We cannot and will not lose hope that the world will have an effective HIV vaccine that is accessible by all who need it, anywhere,” IAS Executive Director Birgit Poniatowski said in a statement. “A vaccine remains one of our most powerful tools to reach and change the lives of vulnerable communities and key populations in the most affected parts of the world.”

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Neal Broverman