HIV Vaccine Research Should Focus On Developing Vaccine
The most practical goal for an HIV vaccine is to prevent HIVtransmission rather than infection with the virus, researchers said atthe four-day AIDS Vaccine 2007 Conference, which began Monday in Seattle, the Seattle Times reports. According to the Times,experts believe a vaccine is the only way to eradicate HIV/AIDS becausethe most common modes of transmission -- sexual contact, injection druguse and mother-to-child transmission during childbirth orbreast-feeding -- are impossible to eliminate completely.
Mostcurrent HIV vaccine candidates focus on producing cytotoxic CD4+ Tcells, which attack HIV-infected cells in the body, according toconference Chair Lawrence Corey, who also is the principal investigatorof the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the head of virology at the University of Washington.Corey added that such vaccines might not prevent an HIV-negative personfrom contracting the virus but would delay HIV from progressing to AIDSand prevent transmission to others.
Pat Fast, executive director for medical affairs at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative,said another challenge in vaccine research is that HIV strains varyamong people and regions. Vaccine trial participants are chosen basedon health standards for industrialized nations, and many people indeveloping countries are not healthy enough to participate in trials,the Times reports. A coalition of HIV research groups onMonday released laboratory guidelines targeted at African populationsto enable increased participation in HIV vaccine trials. "It makessense to try (the vaccine) on the population you'll be giving it to,"Fast said, adding, "What's normal in Peoria may not be normal" inAfrica (Song, Seattle Times, 8/21).
"Treating those infected with HIV or who have" developed AIDS is"critical," but "no one should forget that there is no way out of theAIDS epidemic without a vaccine," a Timeseditorial says. The "good news" is that "[o]ptimism" for developing avaccine "is high," the editorial adds. The creation of the Global HIV/AIDS Vaccine Enterprise and funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation"have attracted more scientists ... to the vaccine search," theeditorial says, adding, "These are exciting times in immunological andinfectious diseases arenas" (Seattle Times, 8/21).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.