Many advanced technologies have developed for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. To find an effective vaccine is difficult and needed to end the global epidemic that kills 700,000 people each year.
As we know that AIDS is an epidemic disease that spread due to human deficiency virus. Among the three conditions, it is one of the significant diseases in developing countries, and the other two are malaria and tuberculosis.
According to the WHO report, Almost 37.9 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally. In this ratio, almost 23.3 million have access to antiretroviral therapies that is currently the best treatment.
UNAIDS 2018 global update shows that 2.3 million people are receiving ART since 2016. UNAIDS also warned that the scale-up of access for treatment should not for granted.
President of the South African Medical Research Council, Glenda Gray, said, ” Vaccine is the only solution to control the disease. It is cheaper than any other intervention and needs one because we are still far away from controlling HIV.”
Every year almost 1.7 million infections emerge all the time. The principal investigator at the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, Larry Corey, highlighted the magnitude of the global epidemic. HIV is pandemic, and every year, 5000 people infected with it. Corey worked on vaccine development against HIV since the 1980s.
Why is it difficult to find a vaccine that works?
Many effective vaccines use to neutralize viral infections, but these are not effective for HUV because this virus reproduces and mutates quickly.
According to the latest research, there are many types of HIV spreading in the world. Subtype B is prevalent in North America and Europe. Meanwhile, subtype C is spreading very fast in Southern and Eastern Africa.
Corey stated that it is a complicated infection or disease, and we never saw this type of virus that so well. You can say it’s very clever, and through different mechanisms, it evades the immune system.
Animal models were used in the research to check the vaccine efficacy. It is expensive and no guarantee that drugs will work in humans.
The reason for provoking persistent infections of HIV is genetic diversity. Therefore our immune system does not work, and the vaccine does not work so well.
Research also tried to understand what type of immune responses have to produced to reduce the infection. No human models showed the cure for HIV that constitutes a further barrier.
Well, Corey explains another reason of why we have not got a vaccine that works, ” Zero out of 72 million people, few people cure themselves in every infectious disease, but that’s not in the case of HIV.
Where we stand Now?
Many clinical trials were made to check vaccine efficacy against HIV. These were started in 2003, and still no vaccine is ready yet.
A hundred vaccines were tested in human, and the most significant achievement was RV144 trial that known as ” Thai Study.” this study shows the promising results of the vaccine, but that was partial. Participants were 60 % showed significant results after getting vaccine few months. But the problem is that it drops 50 percent after three and a half years.
The former president of the International AIDS Society, Linda Gail Bekker told that “thai vaccine is best and we can find out the ways to secure and create antibodies that very effectively bind and neutralize the virus.
The version of the Thai vaccine is tested in southern Africa on a large scale. Therefore we hope that it will reduce the risk of virus 50 percent and extend its protection period. These results would display for the public in 2021.
In 10th International AIDS conference in Mexico City, another promising advancement was announced in July, ” Mosaico vaccine that is made with different strains of the virus. This vaccine was very effective in tests that done on women in Africa.
Moreover, it also tested in men who have sex with other men and the transgender population in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Poland, Spain, Mexico, and Peru.
Mosaico is the best vaccine effective in animals. So we want to see it works in humans. Deputy director at the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Bekker thinks that the vaccine will have a global impact if it really works. Well, the Mosaico researchers are optimistic about this new universal vaccine.
Editorial in Nature concluded that the only efficacy studies would determine whether these promising advancements are capable of reducing infection rates or levels of pre-existing infection.
What Could be Future of HIV
According to global sexual health charity report, ” the reduction in new infections could be achieved by the combination of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis. People already have Antiretroviral therapy and a vaccine. HIV vaccine is more realistic that may be available in 2030.
Furthermore, HIV research receives more financing than any other infectious disease. However, some experts warned that continuous investment has come under threat. Gray said, ” All interventions of HIV Vaccine are in the public sector, pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies.
That’s a precarious business, and that’s why companies have shied away from it. Moreover, Corey said, ” Mosaico study is a private partnership, and Janssen Vaccine and prevention sponsored it and the US National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funding it. HVTN headquarter at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle facilitate its implementation.