July 9, 2010

AIDS vaccine close to being completed

HEALTH - A vaccine for HIV/AIDS could be available by 2014 or 2015 thanks to scientists who have found two powerful human antibodies which can stop the spread of HIV.

The two antobodies, VRC01 and VRC02 are believed to be effective against 90% of HIV mutations. Finding more antibodies and sealing the gap (making it 100% effective) is the next step in creating a vaccine. Once that is done its just a matter of determining the best method to distribute it to the population.

But... if there was an AIDS vaccine available in Canada, would you want to take it?

If you were living in southern parts of Africa where AIDS is rampant, I think it would be a guarantee you'd want to take it.

But if you live in part of the world where AIDS is not so common some people would be more tempted to pass on it and continue practicing "safe sex", because AIDS is not the only sexually transmitted disease out there. The argument therefore is that AIDS in such regions can still be combated using the traditional methods of condoms and being very careful who you have sex with.

A mandatory government immunization program just seems risky... because the worry then is that people might start spreading other STDs by accident, or causing a spike in pregnancies and abortions.

The two VRC antibodies were discovered in the bloood of an HIV-infected person who was immune to the virus. A tiny minority of lucky people who have HIV never develop AIDS and its from these people that we may be able to find a vaccine and maybe even a cure for AIDS.

Even if a third or fourth VRC antibody isn't found to close the gap to a full 100% effectiveness against all different HIV mutations, its still a huge jump forward for treatment and prevention of HIV.

Scientists are very optimistic a full vaccine is less than 10 years away.

Approx. 65,000 Canadians were infected with HIV in 2008, a 14 per cent increase from 2005. In 2008 there was 2 million AIDS-related deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. Southern Africa is the hardest hit where some countries have HIV prevalency rates of approx. 40%.

See Also:
How America Aids and Abets AIDS/HIV Worldwide
Sex Rights in Africa
Africa's Best Hope: Anti-Retrovials

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