New vaccine could make HIV "a minor chronic infection"

A new vaccine has the potential to reduce HIV to a minor chronic infection, though experts warn that a cure for HIV/AIDS is far away.

Scientists from the Spanish Superior Scientific Research Council, led by Professor Mariano Esteban, tested the vaccine, called MVA-B, on 24 healthy patients, according to ABC News. Of the participants, 90 percent developed an immune response to HIV and 85 percent still maintained that response a year after receiving the vaccine.

“MVA-B vaccine has proven to be as powerful as any other vaccine currently being studied, or even more,” Esteban said, ABC News reports.

MVA-B contains four HIV genes that stimulate two kinds of white blood cells to identify and kill sickly HIV cells.

The next step for Esteban and his colleagues is to test the vaccine on those with HIV to ascertain whether or not it holds any therapeutic properties. Esteban said, and experts agree, that an antibody response is not full protection and more research is still necessary.

“The biggest problem with vaccine trials is unlocking the key to immune protection, and that’s been very hard to do,” Dr. John Bartlett, the head of the infectious diseases division of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said, ABC News reports.