START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
2,193,859 people care about Health Policy

Why is the HIV Vaccine Taking So Long?

Why is the HIV Vaccine Taking So Long?

One of the most infamous viruses in modern history burst onto the scene in 1981, when clinicians started observing strange cases of immunodeficiency in patients who had no obvious reasons for their ill health. By 1983, two independent groups of researchers had found the retrovirus responsible, and today, it’s known as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 30 years after it was discovered, we still don’t have a vaccine that can effectively prevent HIV infection.

What’s the holdup?

There are several contributing factors to the problems with successfully developing an effective HIV vaccine. This wily little retrovirus is determined to live and to keep spreading, and like other viruses, it’s extremely adept at evolving, shifting and staying one step ahead of medicine. That means it poses a unique challenge to the researchers who want to stop it in its tracks; we may have successfully eradicated smallpox, but can we do the same to HIV?

One of the problems with HIV is that it’s not a uniform virus. It has a number of subtypes, known as clades, found in various populations around the world. Each clade is different, and vaccinating against one will not necessarily protect a patient from other strains. Thus, vaccine developers have to look for strands of DNA in infected cells that are as common to as many clades as possible (as an RNA virus, HIV penetrates cells and hijacks their functions to force them to turn out new copies of itself), with the goal of sensitizing the patient’s immune system and teaching it to go on the attack when it spots those genetic sequences.

That’s tough to do, especially since HIV regularly evolves, exchanging, changing and dropping genetic material. Some vaccines haven’t been very effective, while others have actually increased susceptibility to HIV, which is exactly the opposite of what researchers want to see. Thus, any successful vaccine has to consider the complex issue of differing clades and evolution.

One approach has relied on taking antibodies from infected patients and introducing them into the bodies of healthy patients. If the body accepts the antibodies, they’ll flag the virus and infected cells for destruction, sending in the cleanup crews of the immune system to take out the HIV. However, antibody therapy is extremely expensive and time-consuming, which makes it less practical to implement on a global scale.

Researchers have also been exploring ways to use the body’s T cells, an important part of the immune system. So far, none of the vaccines they’ve developed with T cells in mind have been effective, but they have managed to reduce the viral load in already infected patients, which is an extremely positive sign. Limiting the presence of HIV in the body means less health problems for the patient, and lowers the risk of full-blown AIDS.

Assuming researchers manage to develop a vaccine that is generally effective against most strains of HIV — and many seem to think they’ll succeed eventually — the road will be far from over. First, the virus needs to be taken out of the lab environment and tested in conditions with escalating size, complexity and states. Many medical developments barely make it out of the lab before it becomes apparent that they have many problems, and they can’t realistically be brought to market. It could take ten years or more, even with fast-tracked research, development and regulatory permissions, to turn a promising vaccine in the lab into one that would be accessible to consumers.

And when it does become available to the public, it’s likely to be sold at a high price point, reflecting the expenses involved in producing it. Even though many researchers are engaged in their work for the public good and some of the facilities researching HIV vaccines are publicly owned, private industry is interested too, and if it can win the patent race, it will charge a pretty penny for HIV vaccination. This in turn may spark a difficult conversation about medical patents and the availability of potentially life-saving medical advances.

Read more: , , , ,

Photo credit: Army Medicine.

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

89 comments

+ add your own
4:15AM PDT on May 26, 2015

A day that i will never forget is the day i was cure by Dr okosisi for my hiv aid How can I explain this to the world that there is a man who can cure HIV/aids I was HIV over since 7year I have being into HIV drug I can’t anymore I decide to look for help then I found this woman post write about this great man Dr.Okosisi telling people about him that this man have cured to HIV I don’t believe that because all I have in mind is HIV had no cure, thank god for my life today am HIV negative through the power of Dr.Okosisi I contacted this man for help because who write about him drop an email of the man I pick the email and emailed him for the cure this man told me what to do about the cure well am from Australia this man cast a curing spell on me and he told me that he will call me after the cure is done truly he did I was cured for 45mins spell what a wonderful man this DR.Okosisi if you need his cured just email him now Okosisilovespell@gmail.com/okosisilovespell@yah…/okosisilovespell@hotmail.com

3:44AM PDT on May 26, 2015

A day that i will never forget is the day i was cure by Dr okosisi for my hiv aid How can I explain this to the world that there is a man who can cure HIV/aids I was HIV over since 7year I have being into HIV drug I can’t anymore I decide to look for help then I found this woman post write about this great man Dr.Okosisi telling people about him that this man have cured to HIV I don’t believe that because all I have in mind is HIV had no cure, thank god for my life today am HIV negative through the power of Dr.Okosisi I contacted this man for help because who write about him drop an email of the man I pick the email and emailed him for the cure this man told me what to do about the cure well am from Australia this man cast a curing spell on me and he told me that he will call me after the cure is done truly he did I was cured for 45mins spell what a wonderful man this DR.Okosisi if you need his cured just email him now Okosisilovespell@gmail.com/okosisilovespell@yah…/okosisilovespell@hotmail.com

9:18PM PDT on Oct 6, 2014

GREAT! GREAT!! GREAT!!! DR. ETELABE
We are giving this testimony from united state of American my name is Vicki and my husband’s name Is Richard, there is this truthful doctor who has proven himself to me and my husband, it was 2012 June 13, when I went for medical checkup I find I was hiv positive. which I did not even know how it happen I was afraid to tell my husband about it, i manage to keep it for a month I could not help it, them before I could link out the story to him, himself has already been infected by the virus, he started buying drugs for both of us it was not an easy thing them we were looking forward for a final solution to this hiv cure why my husband was still looking forward to get the cure too, on this faithful day I read a testimony about this doctor etelabe which drag my intension them I email him at dretelabe@gmail.com and him promise that one day I will still give my own testimony I never believe me I don’t know how him get that I don’t believe him and him warn me to believe so that me and my husband can be free, him told us that he is going to use some items for the cure which needs money, we did it without no stress because I now believe that my spell and that of my husband will be broken one day, DR. ETELABE with tears in my eyes I thank you for saving my family, we are now hiv/aids negative. My husband still has to thank DR. ETELABE. I am Mr. Richard Wilso

4:00PM PDT on Oct 6, 2014

GREAT! GREAT!! GREAT!!! DR. ETELABE
We are giving this testimony from united state of American my name is Vicki and my husband’s name Is Richard, there is this truthful doctor who has proven himself to me and my husband, it was 2012 June 13, when I went for medical checkup I find I was hiv positive. which I did not even know how it happen I was afraid to tell my husband about it, i manage to keep it for a month I could not help it, them before I could link out the story to him, himself has already been infected by the virus, he started buying drugs for both of us it was not an easy thing them we were looking forward for a final solution to this hiv cure why my husband was still looking forward to get the cure too, on this faithful day I read a testimony about this doctor etelabe which drag my intension them I email him at dretelabe@gmail.com and him promise that one day I will still give my own testimony I never believe me I don’t know how him get that I don’t believe him and him warn me to believe so that me and my husband can be free, him told us that he is going to use some items for the cure which needs money, we did it without no stress because I now believe that my spell and that of my husband will be broken one day, DR. ETELABE with tears in my eyes I thank you for saving my family, we are now hiv/aids negative. My husband still has to thank DR. ETELABE. I am Mr. Richard Wilso

6:45PM PDT on Sep 12, 2014

Hello ,i am elizabeth botler from miami united state,i am 35 years old,i saw a comment posted by marian duss from Vegas, on how she was free from hiv by doctor LAWCY, i was diagnosed of HIV infections for the pass two years, i contacted marian and she told me that this very doctor cures HPV cancer, and he also cures HIV/AIDS too, then i contacted DR.LAWCY, so he told me what to do to get healing and free from HIV , so i make provisions for the HERBAL MEDICINE which i used for two weeks and now just to see that the exact week which doctor LAwCY told me i will be healed i was felling good and healthy , my skin regained, i went for check up in the hospital and my doctor told me that all the virus disappeared from my blood vessels and i am normal now, then dr lawcy asked me to promise him that i will testify of his good herbal work to the world, so I will like you to contact him ( drlawcyspellhome@gmail.com. ) if you have any health issue i believe doctor lawcy will help you thanks.

6:16AM PDT on Aug 21, 2014

I love the witch doctor posts

Zhazam zazzole put it in a noodle

cook it real good

eat one noodle evey 24 seconds for HIV

every 45secomnds for cancer

and buy the pound if you remotely believe the nut soup posts

or

you put de lime in da coconut...

8:47PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

Grace K stated:

"When a vaccine becomes available and safe, the government should subsidize so it's available to all."

Not a bad idea at all, certainly would help many people.

Just noticed a bunch of spell casters...One has to wonder if there is a vaccine for spam?

8:46PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

Jacob R believes that vaccines are some kind of plot to depopulate the world.

Just why, Jacob R...do you believe that the rich want to inherit the world and wipe the rest of us out?

If so, who is going to shine their shoes, program their computers, repair their cars and do all of the other things that they rely upon the rest of us to do for them?


8:25PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

I live in UK. This is a testimony I want to make. I was an HIV positive for 8 years taking anti retrovirus. As I was reading online some 5 months ago I saw a testimony on cure of HIV. I decided to give a try. Now as am telling you am very negative tested 4 times in 5 months after finishing mu cure. The cure is a pure herbs from Africa shipped to me through DHL. My cure took about 5days.Dear brothers and sisters if you are out there, please the cure is out and rush to have yours. If you are interested, email the researcher using osimenspelltemple@gmail.com I will encourage every person who come across this mail to cure yourself if you are positive osimenspelltemple@gmail.com
thank to dr osimen.

8:23PM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

I live in UK. This is a testimony I want to make. I was an HIV positive for 8 years taking anti retrovirus. As I was reading online some 5 months ago I saw a testimony on cure of HIV. I decided to give a try. Now as am telling you am very negative tested 4 times in 5 months after finishing mu cure. The cure is a pure herbs from Africa shipped to me through DHL. My cure took about 5days.Dear brothers and sisters if you are out there, please the cure is out and rush to have yours. If you are interested, email the researcher using osimenspelltemple@gmail.com I will encourage every person who come across this mail to cure yourself if you are positive osimenspelltemple@gmail.com
thank to dr osimen.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free
CONTACT THE EDITORS

Recent Comments from Causes

Name the prick. I know lots of Texans. Texans love their animals, especially their dogs. That's why…

It seems incredible that voting machines - at the heart of the democratic process - are not under the…

Materialism People tend to think the purpose of life is to achieve physical advantages. If one is a…

ads keep care2 free



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback

ONSITE FEEDBACK FORM

Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!