Many researchers have tried to develop an effective vaccine against the HIV infection to end the worldwide epidemic. The only vaccine which was still being tested in the final stages of the clinical trials has failed as announced by its manufacturers. This vaccine was being developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. This failure is another addition to the decades-long effort to control the spread of the HIV infection.
The vaccine which was known as Mosaico was developed by Janssen and the US government in a joint effort and the clinical trials for the vaccine were running in eight countries in Europe and America. The trials for the vaccine started in 2019 and were being conducted in men who have a risk of developing the HIV infection. The trials were discontinued after the data collected showed no evidence of lowering the risk of participants acquiring HIV infection.
This is a major setback in the field however researchers are not planning to give up on the field as there are other approaches which can help in the prevention of the infection. These approaches can also help in the development of many more vaccinations for the prevention of HIV infection.
There are many challenges in the development of the HIV vaccine such as the high mutation rate of the HIV virus and that not a single person has been able to fight the HIV Infection on their own. Most vaccines, which are used commonly, work against a disease instead of an infection so it is difficult to develop a vaccine for HIV infection as HIV infection can remain latent for decades.
Researchers are still trying to understand how to induce protective immunity against the virus. The vaccines against HIV can either trigger an immune response or they can provide passive immunity to individuals. Many vaccines have been developed to fight against the HIV infection however none of them have been able to pass the clinical trials.
The most recent vaccine, Mosaico, was able to reach the final stages of the clinical trials but it did not show any promising results in the development of immunity against HIV infection. The clinical trials of the vaccine were discontinued recently and now the researchers will try to develop another vaccine to fight the HIV infection.
HIV Infection is caused by a virus known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which leads to the development of a chronic and life threatening condition AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This condition weakens the immune system of the body as the virus destroys the CD4 T cells.
This weakens the ability of the body to fight against infections. Because of this the infected person becomes susceptible to common infections such as cold and can develop serious complications. Patients of chronic cases of AIDS die because of complications from other diseases instead of AIDS.
HIV Infection can spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, blood transfusions and during pregnancy. This infection does not spread through common contact such as sharing utensils and hugging. There is no known cure for the disease however some methods are available to maintain the immunity of the person so that they do not acquire other infections which can lead to the development of complications associated with AIDS.
Prevention of H.I.V Infection
Since there is no cure for HIV infection, researchers have developed many preventive measures to prevent the spread of HIV virus from one person to another.
- Use Preexposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)- Preexposure Prophylaxis is the use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent the spread of HIV infection. It has been found that the use of PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV from sex by 99% and from injections by 74%. These drugs are only prescribed to patients who do not have an infection and you will need to get tested before taking the medications. Then you will need to get tested for HIV infection every three months as long as you are taking the medications.
- Use Treatment as Prevention (TasP)- If you have been infected by the HIV virus then you should take the HIV medications to keep the viral load undetectable in your blood. This will prevent your partner from getting infected through sexual contact.
- Use post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)- If you think that you have been exposed to the HIV virus then you should immediately contact your healthcare provider and start taking the necessary medications. It has been found that if you take PEP within 72 hours of exposure then it can greatly reduce your risk of acquiring the HIV infection.
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse- You should always use a condom while having sexual intercourse with someone new. You should also use a water based lubricant as oil based lubricants can weaken the condoms thus they can break during sexual intercourse.
- Use clean needles- Always use new and clean needles to inject drugs and medications in your body. Try not to indulge in drug abuse as it can weaken your immunity and health.
- Get tested if you are pregnant- If you are pregnant and think that you have been exposed to HIV virus then you can transmit the virus to your baby. You should immediately inform your healthcare provider and start the treatment in order to prevent the spread of the disease to your baby.
Setback in the Development of H.I.V Vaccine
The only HIV vaccine which was still undergoing clinical trials has been discontinued as it did not show any promising results. The individuals who were administered the vaccine did not show any development of immunity against the virus. However many researchers said that they expected the drug to fail because a similar vaccine Imbokodo also failed its clinical trials recently.
The vaccines used a common cold virus to deliver the immunogens in the individuals which was supposed to trigger a protective immune response in the individuals. The monitoring board conducted the trials for at least a year and studied the data thus accumulated. They found no significant antibodies against the HIV infection thus making the vaccines ineffective against the virus.
The vaccines took years to be developed and were expected to work efficiently against the HIV infection. The researchers will now try to determine the causes of failure of the vaccines and to find any subgroups in which the vaccine did show any efficacy.
FAQs Related to H.I.V Vaccine
Mosaico and Imbokodo were the latest HIV vaccines which were in the final stages of their clinical trials. However the clinical trials of both the vaccines have been discontinued as they did not show any efficacy in decreasing the acquisition rates of HIV in the tested people.
HIV Infection can spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, blood transfusions and during pregnancy. This infection does not spread through common contact such as sharing utensils and hugging.
There are many preventive methods available which can prevent the development of HIV infection in people. These include Preexposure Prophylaxis, post-exposure prophylaxis, treatment as prevention, use of condoms and use of sterile needles.