There has been some significant advancement in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa. A new trial study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the South African Medical Research Council, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is being conducted by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN).
The trials consist of 5,400 participants across 15 sites in South Africa. To date, it is the largest undertaking of its kind that has ever been conducted in South Africa. The results are expected as early as 2020. If successful they could produce a licensed HIV vaccine shortly afterward.
Already there has been some progress. The number of incidents of babies born with HIV has been reduced from 600,000 to 150,000 annually.
The trials are led by Dr. Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council and head of its Africa programs.
Grey spoke at an international AIDS summit and said, “The people of South Africa are making history by conducting and participating in the first HIV vaccine efficacy study to build on the results of the Thai trail.” The Thai vaccine has been the only known vaccine to display limited protections against the HIV/AIDS virus.
Grey went on to state that “If the HIV vaccine were found to work in South Africa, it could dramatically alter the course of the pandemic,” and emphasized that “If we are successful in South Africa, there will be bridging studies to anywhere in the world — to East Africa, the U.S., to young girls, to babies.”
Also present was NIAID Director, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. who stated, “While we are making encouraging progress in preventing new HIV infections, the development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine would be the ultimate game-changer.”