A safe and effective HIV vaccine may be possible, according to a
statement from Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH.
Fauci delivered his statement to highlight May 18 as National HIV
Vaccine Awareness Day. He said he is optimistic that a vaccine will be found.
“In 2009, a clinical trial in Thailand involving 16,000 people
demonstrated for the first time that a vaccine could safely prevent HIV
infection in a modest proportion of study participants,” he said.
“Many of the best minds in HIV vaccine science are examining blood samples
and data from the Thai trial to learn how the vaccine candidate prevented HIV
infections and to consider how it could be modified to be more effective.”
Fauci said NIH researchers are exploring innovative or adaptive trial
designs to build on previous findings, adding that such scientific flexibility
will maximize the efficiency in exploring potential vaccine candidates.
“Some NIAID-supported laboratory scientists are charting a new
course by designing HIV vaccine candidates based on knowledge of the protein
structure of the surface spikes that HIV uses to attach to and infect human
cells,” he said. “These spikes have sites that are vulnerable to
powerful antibodies, which block laboratory infection of human cells by more
than 90% of tested HIV strains from around the globe.”
Fauci said vaccines are in development that will allow healthy
individuals to produce the
neutralizing antibodies, and further understanding of
HIV transmission at the molecular level may lead to vaccine development.
Although a vaccine would be a boon to the battle against the disease,
Fauci said no single prevention strategy is likely to fully defeat HIV/AIDS.
“No matter how effective a preventive HIV vaccine is, however, we
will need to evaluate and administer it in combination with other biomedical
behavioral HIV prevention tools,” he said.
Fauci thanked community educators, health care workers, researchers and
trial participants for their efforts.
“On this extraordinarily challenging journey to develop a
preventive HIV vaccine, taking a moment today to reflect on our progress gives
us all renewed hope that our goal is achievable,” he said.
For the full statement, please visit the