Five HIV patients ‘virus-free’ in early vaccine trials

New vaccine treatment succeeds in controlling HIV virus in five patients, meaning daily antiretroviral drugs would no longer be required.

HIV/AIDS Patient in Hospital
HIV/AIDS Patient in Hospital. © United Nations Photo at Flickr

A new vaccine-based therapy for HIV sees early success as five patients have been declared free of detectable virus. This means HIV patients will no longer need daily antiretroviral drugs (ART) to stop the virus from replicating and causing damage to their immune system.

Scientist Beatriz Mothe and her colleagues of the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, combined two vaccines, developed by Tomas Hanke and his colleagues at the University of Oxford, with a drug usually used to treat cancer in the trial.

In a report by The Independent,  Beatriz Mothe said that her team was “on the right path” to delivering an alternative to daily antiretroviral medication.

According to the UN, around 18 million people take ART every day to slow the progression of the virus, but these drugs are expensive and have a number of unwanted side-effects.

Mitchell Warren, executive director of the Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), called the new findings to be interesting and important.

“Long-term systems that don’t require daily pill taking could really help accelerate getting 37 million people with HIV undetectable and not infectious – that would be a great opportunity to turn the tide on the epidemic,” he added.

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