What is the HIV vaccine story now?

HIV vaccine science is a story for the long haul. And an important one, with trial results expected in 2020 and 2021. Here’s a bullet point list of must-knows about HIV vaccines.

  • In 2009, the Thai vaccine trial, known as RV144, showed proof-of-concept that a preventive HIV vaccine is possible. Researchers have continued to build on the results of that trial to refine and develop potentially effective vaccine strategies.
  • At present, two vaccine candidates and a vaccine-related approach are being studied in largescale efficacy trials: The HVTN 702 trial, also known as “Uhambo”, ongoing in South Africa, is building on the RV144 trial mentioned above. Results of HVTN 702 are expected in 2021. The HVTN 705/HPX2008 trial, also known as “Imbokodo”, underway in multiple countries in southern Africa, is a proof-of-concept study using a novel vaccine with “mosaic” immunogens. As the name suggests, the vaccine has been designed with the aim to protect against a mosaic of different strains of the HI-virus. In other words, the hope is that it would be effective in different parts of the world.
  • HVTN 703/HPTN 081 in Africa and HVTN 704/HPTN 085 in the Americas and Europe are two efficacy studies testing antibody-mediated prevention (AMP). This research is investigating whether direct intravenous infusions of a broadly neutralizing antibody (bNAb) can prevent HIV infection. Study results are expected in 2020.
  • HIV vaccine research has been underway for more than 35 years, but vaccines for other diseases that are in use today also took decades to develop.