TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

UNAIDS calls for increase in efforts to find HIV vaccine

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) called on May 18, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, for an increase in global efforts to find an effective HIV vaccine and to accelerate progress towards ending the AIDS epidemic on May 18.

"Although great strides have been made in preventing new HIV infections alongside expanding access to treatment, we still don't have an effective HIV vaccine," Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, said. "Finding a vaccine for HIV will be the push we need to achieve zero new HIV infections."

In recent years, breakthroughs have been made in vaccine research, including a 2009 RV144 trial in Thailand that showed a vaccine could lower the rate of HIV infection by 31 percent. The trial gave researchers important clues into finding a more effective vaccine. Researchers are also working to increase the level and durability of protection of the existing vaccine.

Research has given insight into the behavior of the virus and the response of the immune system. Vaccine trials in monkeys have prevented and cleared HIV infection. Proper sustained funding for research could help transform these trials into effective and affordable vaccines.

"Research is bringing us closer to a vaccine every day, thanks to the tenacity of scientists and support from many donors and communities," Margie McGlynn, the president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, said. "Only with sustained commitment can we all continue to build on these promising efforts to develop a rich pipeline of vaccine candidates."