Canadian Whole-Virus HIV Vaccine Performs Well in Phase 1 Trial

November 19, 2012

Toronto's The Star reported November 9 that a Phase I HIV vaccine trial conducted by Ontario's Western University had found signs of boosted immune response to HIV with no vaccine-related adverse effects. Phase I trials evaluate safety and efficacy with a small number of trial participants. "Researchers were expecting a two or threefold increase in the level of HIV-1 antibodies," The Star reported, "but were pleasantly surprised when one individual showed a 32-fold increase, and another a 10-fold increase."

The SAV001-H vaccine being evaluated is unusual in using whole HIV virus, genetically altered to be non-pathogenic and further inactivated with chemicals and radiation. Most other developmental vaccines use viral fragments too small to replicate.

Phase I trials come very early in the FDA approval process, so FDA approval of the vaccine -- if ever -- is years away. If the vaccine shows a high percentage of protection in later field trials, though, it may revolutionize the campaign to end the epidemic. We don't need a vaccine to be 100% effective. We just need it to be effective enough that the number of further infections from each new infection in a broadly vaccinated population -- so-called rho -- falls below one. Once rho is less than one, the natural momentum of the epidemic is to shrink.

This article was provided by National Association of People With AIDS. It is a part of the publication Positive Voice.

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