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AIDS Vaccine: Researchers call for new focus

The possibility of finding a successful HIV vaccine will require a new and comprehensive strategy, Aids researchers have said. Promising vaccine trials, the most recent having been conducted in Thailand was found to reduce HIV/Aids transmission by about 30 per cent only.

Dr Pontiano Kaleebu, the acting director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute which has been spearheading HIV vaccine trials described the Aids virus as unique in its genetic composition, making it even harder to tackle than many other diseases. “Many believed that the development of a vaccine would take a short time, but because the virus keeps changing we have not fully understood it,” Dr Kaleebu said at the fifth Forum of the African Aids Vaccine Programme that Uganda hosted early this week.

The forum brought together over 300 researchers in the field of HIV vaccine development, many of who were optimistic that a vaccine would be possible in the long run.

According to Dr Kaleebu, since the onset of the epidemic, over 190 HIV vaccine trials have been conducted globally, at least 20 of them in Africa, the epicentre of the epidemic.

But the challenge, Dr Kaleebu said has been the complexity of the HIV virus its self.
“May be we should slow down on vaccine trials and try to understand the science better. We need to understand why some people who are exposed to the virus remain uninfected and why vaccine trials are failing,” he suggested.

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