The mere mention of HIV or AIDS strikes fears across all populations. The disease is indiscriminate of age, gender, race, nationality, or socioeconomic status. Regions such a sub-Saharan Africa and India are the most impacted. The sobering fact is, at this moment, there is still no cure for HIV and AIDS. Because HIV is genetically diverse, it can mutate rapidly over time with different strains. This is what makes solving the HIV problem so difficult. Creating an effective vaccine to treat a specific strain of HIV may not be effective on another strain or may not remain effective on the intended strain for long. The fact that it affects every populated continent makes HIV a major concern in the scope of Global Health.
A recent trial known as “APPROACH” is based on a so-called “mosaic” vaccine, which includes genetic material from several different subtypes of HIV rather than just a single strain. Once delivered into the human body, the immune system begins the process of learning to recognize and fight the HIV virus without risk of infection.
The trials were performed with HIV-negative adult patients in Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, and the United States. The primary goal was to determine if the subject given the vaccine developed a favorable immune response. The test results showed that after the four injections, 100% of the patients showed an antibody response. Their immune systems recognized the presence of the mosaic, responded to it, and began preparing to fight. These early-stage clinical trial results have been announced at the International AIDS Society conference in Paris.
For many, being infected with the HIV virus is like a death sentence. Individuals, families, and even communities suffer the devastations of such diagnosis. The current regimen of antiretroviral treatments only slows the inevitable onset of AIDS. However, with research like this, I see a new optimism that we will find an effective HIV vaccine in our lifetime. It is this optimism that is fueling scientist and researchers to continue to vigilantly pursue the evasive cure for HIV on a global scale. I see that this optimism will give hope to the millions living with HIV across the globe.
Trenton Gin / San Marino HS 11th Grade
<Trenton Gin / San Marino HS 11th Grade