Durable End to AIDS Will Require HIV Vaccine Development
Recent Scientific Advances Offer Promising Areas for Further Exploration
NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., explains
why an HIV vaccine is needed.
February 5, 2014
Broader global access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapies and wider implementation of proven HIV prevention strategies could potentially control and perhaps end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However,
a safe and at least moderately effective HIV vaccine is needed to reach this goal more expeditiously and in a more sustainable
way, according to a new commentary from Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleague Hilary D. Marston, M.D., M.P.H.
In the piece, the authors note that behavioral, cultural and legal factors have hindered HIV prevention and treatment
efforts and explain why those factors necessitate the development of an HIV vaccine. Although attempts to develop a
vaccine have so far proven disappointing, recent advances offer encouraging areas for HIV vaccine researchers
to pursue, according to the authors. Notably, the discovery of naturally occurring broadly neutralizing
antibodies against HIV and studies of their stimulation in infected individuals have opened new
avenues in vaccine development. Using improved understanding of those antibodies and the
specific sites on HIV to which they bind, the natural process of antibody evolution could be replicated and greatly
expedited allowing protection against initial infection. Significant advances also have been made in
understanding T-cell responses that may be important to vaccine-induced immunity against HIV.
The authors conclude that "the HIV prevention community should hold fast to its commitment to vaccine science. Ultimately,
we believe, the only guarantee of a sustained end of the AIDS pandemic lies in a combination of nonvaccine prevention
methods and the development and deployment of a safe and sufficiently effective HIV vaccine."
AS Fauci and HD Marston. Ending AIDS-Is an HIV vaccine necessary? New England Journal of Medicine DOI:10.1056/NEJMp1313771 (2014).
NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. is available for interviews.
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