WHO announces proposal for potential life-long HIV vaccine

The World Health Organization recently presented a new HIV vaccine proposal at the XIX International AIDS Conference that may potentially reduce the transmission of HIV drastically.

"Every year, more than a million more people in low- and middle-income countries start taking antiretroviral drugs, but for every person who starts treatment, another two are newly infected," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said. "Further scale-up and strategic use of the medicines could radically change this."

The new initiative is looking at existing methods for prevention and maintenance of HIV, such as antiretroviral drugs, but also takes into account a new vaccine which holds great promise to prevent HIV infection.

The new vaccine, under development at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, is projected to be a one-time, lifetime vaccine. It is genetically-engineered and works by focusing on the outer layers of the body structures, which are the first to come into contact with the virus.

Over 90 percent of new HIV infections are transmitted via sexual intercourse. The vaccine specifically targets epithelial cells in the mucosal layers of the epithelium in the rectal and genital areas of a patient.

The vaccine will protect the body structures with disease-fighting cells that won't be rejected by the immune system. The technology has potential to also be used for other infection diseases.

Although this new vaccine has great potential, it still requires further research in order to make a stronger dose. A strong dose is required to make the vaccine a one-time, life-long process for patients.

The XIX conference also urged for better, strategic use of current treatment options, such as the use of antiretrovirals before the immune system of an infected patient begins to become suppressed.