Clinical Trials of HIV Vaccine Begin in South Africa

A new trial has begun in South Africa to test a vaccine against HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS. A group of volunteers have received the vaccine via an injection in the first big study of its kind to test the success of a vaccine since 2009.

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According to the BBC News, the aim of the trial is to test the vaccine on over 5,000 young men and women who are sexually active as well as adolescents before their first sexual experience, via a school based program. Code named HVTN 702, researchers are hoping that this will finally be the breakthrough required to prevent the spread of the virus, currently impacting over 7 million lives in Africa.

So far any attempts to bring in a vaccine that works have been unsuccessful, therefore these clinical trial services being run by Professor Glenda Gray hope to create a safe vaccine that is effective for use across the continent.

The Trial

The trials are expected to last up to 36 months and the vaccine is an improved version of an older tested vaccine that worked on a particular strain of virus found in Africa. This is the seventh vaccine that is being subjected to a human trial for HIV, but already much progress has been made.

Among others, have a large database of qualified professional clinical personnel who work on projects like this and monitor the progress of those involved in the trial. There has been some significant improvement in the lifespan of AIDS patients with the use of new antiviral drugs, however at present the only real prevention is using a barrier method when having sexual intercourse.

Sponsors of the trial include the US National Institute of Health (NIH).

What is Involved?

All the participants in the trial will each get a series of five injections over a period of one year. Many of the volunteers on the trial are getting involved because they are in some way connected with this deadly virus, knowing someone who has either become very ill or died through it. Unfortunately, AIDS still carries a stigma in Africa, but the trial is attracting many heterosexual adults who want to alleviate this and shape the future.

All volunteers will be given medical advice on how to reduce their risk during the trial.

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