Promising HIV vaccine trial in South Africa fails

Promising HIV vaccine trial in South Africa fails
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Researchers have halted a trial of a potential HIV vaccine because initial results found the treatment was not effective.

The study enrolled just over 5,400 volunteers across South Africa beginning in 2016, but U.S. health officials on Monday said it has failed.

“An HIV vaccine is essential to end the global pandemic, and we hoped this vaccine candidate would work. Regrettably, it does not,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the infectious diseases division of the National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the study along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Late last month, an interim analysis found 129 HIV infections occurred among the vaccine recipients and 123 HIV infections occurred among the placebo recipients.

There were no safety concerns, but the NIH said it agreed with an independent safety board that since the vaccines did not work, the study should stop.

The study was only the seventh large-scale human trial of a vaccine for HIV.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. According to the United Nations AIDS advocacy program, 240,000 people acquired HIV in 2018, and more than 20 percent of the entire adult population ages 15-49 in South Africa are living with HIV.