|*Single injection protects monkeys for at least 18 weeks
Scientists are edging closer to a long-term preventative Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) vaccine, new research suggests.
A single injection protected monkeys against a version of the virus for at least 18 weeks, suggesting the jab could offer people months of immunity, a study by Rockefeller University, New York, United States (U.S.), found.
People at high risk of becoming infected, such as those with HIV-positive partners, can take the preventative drug Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) before sex, however, there is no long-term, effective jab.
Developing such a vaccine is difficult due to HIV ‘hiding’ from people’s immune systems, however, including certain proteins in the injection cause immune cells to recognise parts of the “envelope” that surround the virus, the research adds.
According to the researchers, their findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, “lay the groundwork” for a preventative vaccine that could be given as little as once a year. It is unclear when it may be available.
Currently, there is no cure for HIV. Lifelong antiviral treatment controls the infection but often causes side effects including nausea, vomiting and insomnia. What is PrEP? It is the HIV prevention drug that stops 90 per cent of transmission. This drug in particular is fixed-dose combination of two anti-retroviral drugs, tenofovir and FTC, in one pill.
They work together to interfere with an enzyme which HIV uses to infect new cells, slowing down the virus’s attack or preventing it altogether. The drug is designed for people that have not yet been exposed to the virus to protect themselves against it. Alternatively, people who have been exposed can take PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), a month-long course of drugs started within 72 hours of exposure.