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Researchers Reformulate HIV Vaccine, Ready To Begin Clinical Trial In South Africa

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Researchers will start a new AIDS trial in South Africa, where thousands of volunteers will use a pioneering medication that was created in order to stop the alarming deaths caused by this disease. One million people die every year because of AIDS, and another 2 million are infected in the same time interval.

The research will be the seventh full-scale human trial for the virus, after four years ago 16,000 people in Thailand turned up a previously unknown vulnerability in the resilient pathogen.

A New HIV Vaccine Trial

The vaccine was 31 percent efficient and its effects diminished over time, and because of this, it was never approved for use on a larger scale. However, the results of this study allowed the scientists to analyze what didn't work, improve the formula and propose yet another trial.

It's necessary for this vaccine to be approximately 50 to 60 percent effective in order to be licensed for production by large companies such as Sanofi Pasteur and GSK in South Africa.

"Given that right now we have nothing, we'd be happy if this vaccine were even 45 or 50 percent effective. Even a modestly effective vaccine like that would have a huge impact here," according to Gita Ramjee, director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit at the Medical Research Council in Durban.

In any other place on the planet this success rate of a vaccine would be considered undeniably small. But every one in five South African people are infected with the virus, meaning that 7 million people live with the virus. This makes a 50 percent success rate a real life-saver. After a possible approval of the vaccine, it could be adjusted to fit viral subtypes that are spread in other parts of the world, including the United States.

Better Antiretroviral Drug Efficiency

Since antiretroviral drugs started being developed, HIV has lost the media coverage that used to make it so popular. While the antiretroviral drugs are somewhat efficient in helping people survive with this disease, there still is a pandemic.

In 2015, over 36 million people worldwide were infected with HIV, 2.1 million of whom were newly infected, and from this total number, 1.2 million people are infected in the United States. However, approximately 18 million of the total number managed to get medication that would help control the disease in 2015.

There have been other trials, some of which haven't been conducted on people yet. For instance, researchers at the Rockefeller University and collaborators published a series of studies in the journal Science, about the newly found possibility to accelerate the defense system of the body in order to prepare blocking the HIV infection.

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