An Arizona State University scientist specializing in infectious diseases said results from an HIV vaccine trial released last month are “a real milestone” in ongoing efforts to prevent the disease.
Bertram Jacobs, a professor specializing in infectious diseases and vaccinology in the School of Life Sciences at ASU, said this vaccine is the first to offer any positive results in the prevention of HIV, the disease that leads to AIDS.
“There has been failure after failure after failure,” Jacobs said of previous vaccines.
The results of the six-year study, which was conducted in Thailand by the U.S. Army and the Thailand Ministry of Public Health, were released Sept. 25. The trial consisted of 16,402 non-infected volunteers and is the largest HIV vaccine trial ever conducted, according to a report by the U.S. Military HIV Research Program. Half of the volunteers were given a placebo and half were vaccinated with a “prime boost” regimen, that combines two different HIV vaccines.
The trial in Thailand reduced HIV infection by 31.2 percent within the sample population, with 51 vaccinated volunteers becoming infected with HIV compared to the 74 placebo volunteers that became infected, the report stated.
Jacobs said the study indicates that the prime boost regimen works. He said that today, there are even stronger vaccines that can be used to repeat the trial and that a vaccine with an 80 to 90 percent prevention rate could be developed within 10 years.
Jacobs said individually the two vaccines are not very powerful, but together they seem to produce results, although scientists are unsure why. Even with the positive outcome of the trial, Jacobs said he is not completely satisfied.
“That’s nowhere near where we need to be,” Jacobs said. “But it sets a bar for what we need to beat.”
Lorraine Brown, a consumer advocate for the Maricopa County Integrated Health System, said the Thailand trial vaccine brings scientists closer to finding a cure for HIV.