New HIV Vaccine Will Launch Trial In South Africa

A new HIV vaccine will be tested on a clinical trial in South Africa Wednesday.  The study called HVTN 702 hopes to enrol 5,400 men and women with HIV, making it the largest HIV trial to take place in the region, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a statement.  In South Africa, about 1,000 people get infected with the disease every day. 

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. government's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said: "If deployed alongside our current armory of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV. Even a moderately effective vaccine would significantly decrease the burden of HIV disease over time in countries and populations with high rates of HIV infection, such as South Africa."

Study Is Based On An Earlier Trial In Thailand

The experimental vaccine is based on the one used during the RV144 clinical trial in Thailand, which was found to be 31.2 percent effective over the 3.5-year follow-up after vaccination.  The new vaccine hopes to provide greater and more sustained protection and has been adapted to the HIV subtype that predominates in South Africa.   The subjects of this trial will be given a total of five injections over one year.

South Africa Has The Most Number Of HIV Cases

In South Africa, the number of people with HIV has grown from 5.48 million in 2011 to 6.19 million in 2015, making it the country with the most number of HIV cases. 

"HIV has taken a devastating toll in South Africa, but now we begin a scientific exploration that could hold great promise for our country.  If an HIV vaccine were found to work in South Africa, it could dramatically alter the course of the pandemic," Chief Executive Officer of the South African Medical Research Council, Glenda Gray, said. 

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