HIV Vaccine On The Horizon

March 24, 2011

These days, there’s a vaccine for just about everything, whether it’s serious enough to warrant one or not. Few would argue that HIV treatment doesn’t warrant the huge step forward that the HIV vaccine would be.

How does it work?

The challenge with treating HIV has always been its highly mutagenic nature—the world over, there’s an astonishing number of variations of the virus. Antiviral medication is the main treatment of HIV, although in cases with variations of the virus that do not respond, there are other medications used.

Click Here for the NIH article

The HIV vaccine overcomes the mutagenic quality of HIV by bonding to the site on the virus that attaches to immune system cells. This site doesn’t change much between different strands of HIV, so the antibodies that the vaccine is based on and tries to recreate with the bodies immune system can essentially stop HIV infection.
Is it available?

There are still problems with developing the HIV vaccine. For one, the antibodies it seeks to create are complicated, so getting the body to learn to make them is a bit more complicated.

What’s more, as with any new medication there’s a need for lots of testing and research. Vaccines are already known to be a bit problematic in terms of efficacy and side-effects, and the added complexity of the HIV antibodies development likely means that if the HIV vaccine ever meets approval, it will be years from now.

What do you think of this development as far as vaccine news goes? With hundreds of new vaccines perched to come on the market, do you think they’re a good way to spend research money, or do you think time and energy would be better spent on new antivirals (and antibiotics), and advanced treatments and prevention?

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