First Human HIV Vaccine Trial in 7 Years

Zachary BarrettNov 29, 2016

The Post notes that about 5,400 people-who must be HIV-negative, sexually active and between the ages of 18 and 35-are being recruited for the trial.

The new vaccine regimen has been adapted to the HIV subtype that predominates in southern Africa and a smaller initial trial involving 252 people has found that it was safe for the study participants and induced comparable immune responses to those reported in RV144.

"If deployed alongside our current armoury of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV", he predicted.

According to a statement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the HVTN 702 is the largest and most advanced HIV vaccine clinical trial to be undertaken in South Africa, where some seven million people are living with the virus. The study showed that the vaccine was about 30% effective at preventing infection over 3.5 years. Although the Thai vaccine trial did not prevent enough infections to allow it to be marketed, it was the first trial to indicate that an HIV vaccine was possible.

The vaccine was modified to be specific to HIV sub-type C, the predominant sub-type found in South Africa. Barring any unforeseen problems or astounding success sooner, results from the new HIV vaccine trial are not expected until 2020.

The HVTN 702 study will be led by Protocol Chair Glenda Gray, MBBCH, FCPaed (SA). Dr.

World Health Organization is also launching a new progress report "Prevent HIV: test and treat all - World Health Organization action for country impact".

South Africa has been especially hard hit by HIV and AIDS-nearly twenty percent of the population, or 7 million people, is infected, and in some parts of the country, such as in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, estimates place the number of HIV-positive people at almost 30 percent.

The HIV Vaccine Trials Network - part of the P5 public-private partnership behind the vaccine's development along with the organiser of the trial - has said that it believes that if the vaccine can show a 50% protective efficacy rate at two years it could be enough to support regulatory approvals.

Volunteers are being randomly assigned and will receive the "investigational HIV vaccine regimen" or a placebo. It is an enormously hopeful time for HIV vaccine development and South Africa is playing a leading role in not only vaccine trials but also in the basic laboratory research that underpins them.

Participants who become infected with HIV in the community will be referred to local medical providers for treatment and will be educated on how to reduce their risk of transmitting the virus.

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