HIV has been an issue for many year. This virus is the one responsible for the majority of AIDS cases. It can be transmitted through, body fluids, such as blood, semen, and genital secretions, or from an HIV-infected mother to her child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding (through breast milk).
AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease that infects the immune system. Specifically CD4 T lymphocytes. This leaves the body vulnerable to other infections and eventually the patient dies due to an infection that the body cannot treat. Even with drugs, the body cannot recover from even mild infections. Patients have to live in sterile environments to survive but even there, they eventually get infected and die. There are several ways to prevent the disease from reaching final stages if diagnosed early but those have several side effects. There are also treatments but all of those approaches either doesn’t work very well or has severe side effects.
Some think that AIDS since it is acquired through body fluids can be easily avoid it if someone doesn’t have unprotected sex. So they tend to think of AIDS patients in a negative way. But this is not right since many of the patients didn’t have a choice. Some are born with it, other are rape victims or have gone through a bad situation during their lives that lead to a bad environment etc. I just wanted to mention this, because while many are informed and know the struggles of such diseases, some still think of it in this weird way and i find it wrong.
Ok, so what about this new vaccine. Is it any good? Does it work?
Yes it did work. According to this study (linked at the end), this vaccine provided a significant protection against HIV and the drug is now being evaluated in a phase 2b clinical efficacy study in Africa. The study included 393 participants which is a lot for such a study. Surprisingly, this vaccine showed almost no side effects except from one case with mild pain at the infection site. So compared to other AIDS treatments this one has far less side effects. The mosaic adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26)-based HIV-1 vaccine showed significantly better responses to the virus.
There are over 37 million people living with AIDS around the world and more are infected every day. While informing the public would solve some of the cases, it wouldn’t solve all. Solutions like this vaccine are thus necessary. While this vaccine shows promise, researchers are still trying to develop new treatments and vaccines for AIDS.
The HIV virus is very hard to treat since it features great genetic diversity. So one patient may have an HIV virus genetically different from another patient with another HIV virus. Those changes are small, and those HIV viruses cause the same disease, AIDS, but treating them becomes difficult since one drug may not work in one variant of the virus.
It is great to see such vaccines move on to the next testing phase and we will hopefully soon have such vaccines developed and tested fully. This will be necessary to save millions and prevent future generations from having to deal with this virus. It is a very interested study and if you are interested in learning more i have links to it in the sources bellow.
Image: By Photo Credit: C. GoldsmithContent Providers: CDC/ C. Goldsmith, P. Feorino, E. L. Palmer, W. R. McManus – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #10000. Note: Not all PHIL images are public domain; be sure to check copyright status and credit authors and content providers., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3909584