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HIV/AIDS Cure 2019: Vaccine enters phase 2 of clinical trial in China with 100+ participants

Seen in the photo is a syringe with a vaccine bottle. | Photo by NIH/NIAID via Flickr.com

An HIV vaccine being developed by Chinese scientists is slated to enter phase 2 of clinical trials with over 100 participants. This follows a landmark victory reported recently in the United States where researchers killed the virus in a humanized mouse model for the first time.

The development of a complete cure for the AIDS-causing virus remains elusive over the past decades. But significant breakthroughs have been reported this month that could lead to the availability of an anti-HIV vaccine.

HIV cure in China could be underway

Scientists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention are entering the second phase of human clinical trials for an HIV vaccine. Researchers affiliated with the study hailed the development as the first HIV vaccine to reach this stage. The testing will take place in hospitals in Beijing and Hangzhou with a total of 160 participants. As of reporting, 130 volunteers have already signed up for the trial.

Shao Yiming, who leads the agency’s HIV studies, explained that the potential HIV cure, called DNA-rTV, works through the reproduction of the virus’ DNA. But instead of using the total composition of human HIV, it relies just on some components of the HIV DNA to increase the body’s immunity from the virus. It was also reported that the vaccine is developed to treat strains of HIV that have been commonly observed in Chinese patients.

The first trial for the potential HIV vaccine took place in 2007, and scientists hope the second phase of clinical trials will be completed within 2021. After this, the study will move forward to a third phase where they will test the vaccine in thousands of participants.

UNAIDS reports ‘mixed results’ in campaign to end HIV epidemic by 2020

The latest available data show that around 37.9 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) around the world. While an HIV/AIDS cure has yet to be developed, the UNAIDS launched a campaign to end the epidemic by 2020 through other measures. That include reducing new diagnoses, making treatments more accessible, and stopping the increase in AIDS-related deaths worldwide.

Generally, the latest UNAIDS report shows there have been developments in the efforts of HIV detection, treatment, and viral suppression. However, from 2010 to 2018, the organization observed mixed results in the statistics of new HIV infections. Major strides were seen in the southern and eastern parts of Africa where more than half of PLHIVs are situated. But the number of new infections increased by 5-9 percent in other regions such as eastern Europe, central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

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