Moderna is starting clinical trials for a potential HIV vaccine. (Envato Elements)
A Moderna HIV vaccine candidate is about to enter human trials.
Moderna is expected to launch a clinical trial for its experimental HIV vaccine as early as this week, according to the National Institute of Health’s trial registry. The potential vaccine uses the same mRNA technology used in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The trial is currently slated to start on Thursday (19 August) and is likely to conclude around May 2023.
The vaccine has been developed in collaboration with the University of Texas at San Antonio, George Washington University, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Emory University with sponsorship from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
Moderna will be testing two types of mRNA HIV vaccine, both of which were previously tested for safety before use in human trials.
Moderna’s HIV vaccine could be a game changer if it’s found to be effective
There is no guarantee that the HIV vaccine will work, and caution must be exercised. However, an effective vaccine would be a game changer in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.
Scientists have been working to develop a vaccine against the virus that causes AIDS for decades, but promising developments have so far failed to materialise into a vaccine.
In 1984, when HIV was identified as the virus that was causing AIDS, it was thought that vaccines could be developed within a matter of years – but this has so far proven difficult.
Numerous potential vaccines have been shelved during the clinical trial stage over the years as they failed to show effectiveness in preventing HIV – while others were stopped due to concerns about their safety.
While scientists have not yet found a vaccine for HIV, antiretroviral treatment means that people with the virus can live long, healthy and happy lives.
When taken every day, antiretroviral medication suppresses HIV, leaving it undetectable. The result is that people with HIV on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on through condomless sex.
The advent of antiretroviral medication in the late 1990s was a landmark moment in the global fight against HIV – however, persistent inequality means that treatment is not distributed evenly across the world.
In recent years PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) has become a vital part of the fight against HIV. When taken correctly the medication, a daily pill, prevents people from acquiring HIV.