The flurry of news coming from the International AIDS Conference largely overshadowed the results of a small South African study testing a therapeutic vaccine in 60 HIV-positive volunteers not yet eligible for antiretroviral therapy. And the research could have great benefit, as it could keep patients healthy for longer and delay the point at which people need to begin ART.
The trial was actually testing for safety, and researchers did not expect to see a significant response. But when the two-year study ended, the amount of HIV circulating in the patients' blood had dropped, and their CD4 counts had increased, the Mail & Guardian reports.
Even though the effect was slight, it was significant enough to warrant another trial. Kalevi Reijonen, chief executive of FIT Biotech, which funded the trial, said that if all goes to plan a vaccine could be available by 2016. Meanwhile, Mitchell Warren, executive director of the Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, expressed cautious optimism, adding that a larger and longer trial is needed to confirm the results.
- see the report
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