HIV Vaccine Outlook Poor, Researchers at Symposium Say; Shift in Focus, New Fundraising Efforts Suggested
The current prospects for developing an effective HIV vaccine are "poor" because of multiple research challenges, participants at a New York Academy of Sciences and AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition HIV vaccine symposium in New York City said last week, BMJ reports. Researchers said several factors are hindering the development of a preventive HIV vaccine: the human immune system does not naturally control HIV very well, the virus can develop resistance to antiretroviral medications, researchers do not have a good animal model in which to study the virus and individuals can be infected with several different viral strains. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond Research Center in New York City, said, "Coming up with a vaccine against this virus is going to be tough." Ho said research should focus on the first 10 days of infection, when the virus replicates rapidly but does not elicit an immune response. AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren said the focus on HIV prevention and access to antiretroviral drugs should continue because of the difficulties researchers face in developing a vaccine, according to BMJ. "It's not a vaccine or microbicide (alone that we need)," Warren said, adding, "It's not prevention or treatment. It's all of them. ... A vaccine will end the epidemic, but other efforts must continue" (Hopkins Tanne, BMJ, 5/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.