AIDS Vaccines: The World's Best Hope to End the AIDS Epidemic

By Gladel, Christian | UN Chronicle, July-August 2006 | Go to article overview

AIDS Vaccines: The World's Best Hope to End the AIDS Epidemic


Gladel, Christian, UN Chronicle


TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER ITS ONSET, AIDS continues to grow and outpace the global response. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 2006 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, worldwide an estimated 38.6 million people are currently living with HIV. The epidemic is particularly worrisome for women and youth: in 2005, 59 per cent of infected people in sub-Saharan Africa were women; HIV-infected young women, aged 15 to 24, outnumbered their male counterparts by three to one. Approximately 6,000 to 7,000 people in that age group contract the virus each day.

The increasing effect of what is generally referred to as the feminization of HIV/AIDS is a phenomenon that can be observed in all regions across the world. Young people are also disproportionately affected, and despite internationally agreed goals to step up prevention efforts, activities to adequately protect them from HIV/AIDS are insufficient. However, there are signs of hope. Infection rates have plateaued in several African countries, but with around 4.1 million new infections annually, there is no room for complacency. The impact of HIV/AIDS is especially serious in the developing world since 95 per cent of new infections occur there. To help prevent HIV/AIDS, the need is evident for a vaccine--a substance that trains the immune system to recognize and protect against a disease or other infectious agent.

Historically, vaccines have been particularly efficient and cost-effective. The introduction of the smallpox vaccine, for example, made it possible to eradicate the disease altogether. They are also good poverty-fighting tools, as they tend to reach the poor and disadvantaged populations better than other health services.

On the minds of a lot of people, however, is the question, "Is it possible to develop an AIDS vaccine?" The answer is yes. Most scientists believe that an effective preventive AIDS vaccine is challenging but feasible. Virtually everybody's immune systems can keep the virus in check for a number of years. However, there are certain individuals that are resistant to HIV infection, such as a group of Kenyan sex workers who, despite repeated exposure to the virus, never contracted HIV. Their bodies somehow are able to control infection. It has also been found that AIDS vaccines can protect monkeys from the simian equivalent of HIV. All these are important, if not yet well understood, clues for the development of an AIDS vaccine. Accordingly, more than 30 vaccine candidates are currently undergoing early trials on four continents.

On the other hand, the challenges for developing an AIDS vaccine are formidable. Scientifically, the human immunodeficiency virus has turned out to be a very elusive target; in fact, HIV is one of the most complicated viruses ever identified, and it targets and destroys the very immune system that a vaccine traditionally triggers. Its genetic hyper-variability is daunting; millions of viruses are constantly produced and their mutation rates are staggering. The immune system is presented with an endless stream of new forms of the virus that it is unable to recognize and control.

In addition, clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of an AIDS-vaccine candidate are long and costly. A vaccine is developed in laboratories and initially tested in animals, after which it generally has to go through three phases of testing on human beings to be licensed for use (see box below). In 2005, 13 new trials of preventive AIDS-vaccine candidates began in nine countries worldwide, including the developing world, two of them involving Phase II trials. India, China and Rwanda started their first vaccine trials in 2005 and South Africa began Phase II.

Contrary to a common myth that HIV vaccines can cause a person to get HIV or AIDS, it is absolutely not possible for the current HIV-vaccine candidates to cause a person to become infected with HIV, as these vaccines do not contain the virus, but rather only copies of small non-infective parts of the virus, so they cannot cause HIV transmission. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

AIDS Vaccines: The World's Best Hope to End the AIDS Epidemic
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.