Oct 6, 2005
My question is regarding the potential discovery of a preventive vaccine vs. a therapeutic vaccine. If a preventive vaccine is ever discovered, how will this impact individuals who are already HIV positive? Further to this point, if a therapeutic vaccine is discovered, how will this influence HIV positive individuals? Is it feasible that such individuals will no longer need to take medications? Also, with a therapeutic vaccine is it possible that HIV will no longer be a significant health concern for those already infected? Another words, will it be possible to think of HIV as something like chicken pox - something you always carry once infected but a virus that is not an emminent health concern?
Thank you for all that you do on this wonderful site.
Response from Dr. Henry
A truly preventative effective vaccine for HIV is not on the short-term horizon. Many of the potentially effective vaccines elicit a cellular immunity response which may be diasease modifying but may not prevent the infection (the term therapeutic vaccine might encompass both that situation as well as trying to immunize already infected persons to elicit an enhanced immune response). The Merck vaccine is currently getting attention and is an example of a vaccine that might not prevent infection but could result in a milder diseae course and perhaps less risk for transmission. KH
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