Hiv Aids Research

Since the discovery of AIDS in 1981, AIDS research has produced a number of treatments that have greatly increased the lifespan and quality of life of people who are HIV positive. While AIDS is still incurable, people with access to AIDS treatment can now be said to be living with AIDS, rather than dying of AIDS.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of HIV positive individuals worldwide can gain access to expensive antiretroviral drugs. Consequently, HIV continues to exact a heavy toll in developing countries, where access to AIDS medications is limited.

AIDS Vaccine: A Global Solution

AIDS research is primarily focused on the creation of an AIDS vaccine. A vaccine could reach people internationally in a way that current AIDS medications cannot. In May of 1997 U.S. President Bill Clinton underscored the need for an AIDS vaccine by declaring the discovery of a vaccine a national goal.

An AIDS vaccine is probably the best chance the world has of ending the AIDS epidemic. AIDS research is also attempting to find a therapeutic vaccine: a medicine that could be used to treat AIDS in people already infected with HIV.

AIDS Vaccine and Clinical Trials

In 2005, AIDS research facilities in the United States were involved in approximately thirty AIDS vaccine clinical trials. Government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health, and the Department of Defense, are all involved in AIDS research under an umbrella organization called PAVE (Partnership for AIDS Vaccine Evaluation).

There have been a number of promising AIDS vaccine clinical trials, such as the a gp120 vaccine that received large scale clinical testing in Thailand. While AIDS research has yet to find a viable AIDS vaccine, each apparent failure brings AIDS research closer to a successful outcome.

Fear and AIDS Vaccine Testing

AIDS is a terrible disease and since its discovery in 1981 HIV has generated a number of urban legends and conspiracy theories. There have been rumors that “the government” created AIDS and then lost control of the disease. More sinister rumors surmise that AIDS was created to target homosexuals, African Americans, or other minority groups.

These rumors, beliefs and urban legends do little to further AIDS research, and often get in the way of research. There is a widespread belief that taking part in an AIDS vaccine clinical trial puts people at risk of catching the disease.

In fact, North American AIDS research does not use HIV to create possible AIDS vaccines. Instead, manmade proteins are used to create the experimental vaccines. These proteins trick the immune system into thinking HIV is present, so the body will generate HIV antibodies without coming into contact with the actual virus.

Nonetheless, conspiracy theories have done AIDS research some damage and volunteers are always needed to take part in AIDS vaccine trials.

International AIDS Research

While most AIDS research discounts the use of HIV in the creation of an AIDS vaccine, some medical facilities are considering using certain HIV genes in their search for a vaccine.

In the European Union, the Institut Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline are planning to fuse HIV cells to the measles vaccine, in the hopes that an HIV vaccine can “piggyback” on the existing virus.

It may take several more years before AIDS research produces a viable AIDS vaccine. Given the devastation caused by AIDS in many developing nations, an AIDS vaccine is the most important aspect of AIDS research, and holds the most promise for an end to this global killer.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (updated 9 September 2005). The world needs a vaccine.

Dotinga, R. (21 November 2005). Many distrust AIDS vaccine trials.

Fisher-IIan, A. (30 November 2005). AIDS expert reports progress towards an HIV vaccine.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. (nd). HIV vaccines explained.