NIAID commemorates HIV Vaccine Awareness Day by recounting progress

The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease commemorated HIV Vaccine Awareness Day on Saturday by recounting progress made against the deadly disease.

Between 2001 and 2011, the annual HIV infection rate worldwide dropped 22 percent as a result of the implementation of scientifically proven HIV prevention strategies. The NIAID said that more must be done to end the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, including a scale-up of proven HIV prevention strategies and the discovery of new HIV prevention interventions and treatments.

HIV is a difficult target for a vaccine and recent developments with the HVTN 505 clinical trial and analyses from the HVTN 503 Phambili vaccine study were disappointing. The studies did provide clear answers about investigational vaccine strategies that were not effective, allowing scientists to move in new vaccine directions.

The RV 144 HIV vaccine study in Thailand demonstrated protection against HIV for some trial volunteers but not for others. Large-scale investigational vaccine clinical trials to build on the RV 144 results are anticipated to begin in two to three years in South Africa.

Scientists with the NIAID recently charted the co-evolution of HIV and a strong antibody response. Such a response occurs in 20 percent of HIV-infected individuals, and the findings could help researchers to determine which proteins to use in future investigational vaccines. NIAID researchers also recently identified CXCL4, an HIV-suppressing protein that could regulate viral replication in an infected individual.

The NIAID thanked the thousands of volunteers for clinical HIV studies and the scientists and clinicians working to find an effective vaccine.