Infectious disease specialist Dr. Joseph Rahimian has commented on news that a vaccine could severely impact the impact of an HIV infection, and has indicated the discovery is cause to be cautiously optimistic.
Scientists at the Spanish Superior Scientific Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid made the discovery, one which has been long sought-out after HIV emerged as a worldwide pandemic in the early 80’s. While great strides have been made in managing the infection, the potential of a vaccine is a massive development in the field of HIV prevention and treatment.
“An HIV vaccine has been the holy grail for infectious disease doctors for a very long time… There are a lot of people interested in creating one and obviously a lot of demand for it, so there would be a lot of excitement if this research is accurate.”
CSIC researcher Mariano Esteban commented:
“MVA-B vaccine has proven to be as powerful as any other vaccine currently being studied, or even more… If the virus enters the body and tries to develop in a cell, the immune system is ready to inactivate the virus and destroy the infected cell.”
Esteban likened the vaccine to showing the immune system a photo of HIV “so that it is able to recognize it if it sees it again in the future.” While the study said the vaccine stands to make HIV far less contagious and likened a vaccine-weakened HIV to herpes, Rahimian warns further testing is necessary to determine the impact of the discovery:
“The population that they used is very small, and they followed them out to one year. So one important question is how long does this last for? A vaccine that has to be given repeatedly every year is less exciting than a vaccine that can give long-term immunity.”