May 20, 2011
Advocates marked HIV Vaccine Awareness Day on Wednesday by acknowledging the researchers and volunteers participating in the search for an effective vaccine.
HIV vaccine research is a "long and arduous task with dozens of trials big and small all over the world over a number of years," said Mitchell Warren, head of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition. "And at the end of the day, without the thousands of men and women who participate in those trials, we'll never find an AIDS vaccine."
"Thirty years into the epidemic, I actually think that this last year or so is a true turning point for both the search for an AIDS vaccine as well as, and I think perhaps most importantly, beginning the conversation about how we end AIDS in our lifetime," Warren said.
Scientists are analyzing the results of the most promising vaccine study thus far, the RV144 Thai prime-boost trial, said Warren. A global collaborative is analyzing the samples collected in RV144 "to try to understand better why that vaccine had the modest effect that it did," he said. Findings could be released in the coming months.
"The second track of activity is another exciting collaboration of a number of partners, both in public sector and industry, trying to build on the results of RV144 in designing two follow-up studies," which will not start until 2014 or so, said Warren.
"When those trials do begin in 2014, it's going to be a very different landscape, I suspect, because all of this work in AIDS vaccine research is happening at a simultaneous moment in exciting antiretroviral-based prevention and treatment research," Warren said. "And so we're going to be looking at trials conducted in a much more complex but much more exciting context in the coming years."