Two scholarly papers published concurrently in Science and Cell lay out the foundation for a very promising HIV vaccine. While treatments for HIV have been developed, a vaccine has proven evasive, yet this new approach looks promising. This is from Medical News Today:

The aim of the research is to design a vaccine that elicits an immune response against HIV, producing antibodies that bind to the virus and prevent infection.

Vaccines typically use a dead or inactive version of the virus to provoke the production of antibodies. Because HIV is excellent at evading detection from the immune system, however – and because it has the ability rapidly mutate into new strains – HIV microbes are not effective for use in a vaccine.

The authors of the new study explain that this concept is a twist on the traditional booster shot, in which the patient is repeatedly exposed to the same immunogen.

The researchers behind the new studies found that an immunogen called eOD-GT8 60mer could be effective as the first in a series of immunizations against HIV.

This immunogen produces antibody “precursors” that the scientists explain possess some of the required abilities to recognize and block HIV.

Current HIV prevention strategies rely upon two approaches. First, the use of condoms to strop the spread of HIV as well as other STI’s. This approach is highly effective when condoms are used, but most gay men report not using condoms for a variety of reasons. Second, is the use of PrEP, a daily use dose of an HIV drug. This newer strategy is also effective, but has a number of shortcomings as well. It must be taken every day, and missed doses open a vulnerability to infection. PrEP doesn’t combat any other STI, and recommendations are that men use condoms in addition to PrEP.

A true vaccine has eluded scientists, but offers the greatest potential for a real curb to the HIV epidemic. More info of this potential breakthrough can be found in these articles:

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