These days, there is also the option of using the drugs Truvada and Descovy to prevent HIV infection (known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP), and so it’s tempting to think an HIV vaccine is no longer necessary. PrEP is an important new addition to the existing methods of HIV prevention, but it is unlikely to be an option for everyone -- the pills are expensive, may cause side effects, and may not be accessible to everyone.  And not everyone likes to take daily pills.
Another prevention option researchers are studying is called antibody mediated prevention (AMP). If successful, this method could also provide protection. However, it will likely require regular injections or infusions, and may not appeal to everyone who needs protection. In addition, cost may be a factor, as with other prevention methods.
Vaccines remain the most efficient and effective way to eliminate an infectious disease. They are an effective, affordable and practical option.
HIV was identified in 1983. In comparing the time spent on preventive HIV vaccine research to other vaccine development timelines, the fact that we are still looking for a vaccine is not surprising; it took 47 years to develop the polio vaccine!
Finding a safe and effective HIV vaccine that will protect people around the world is a formidable but necessary task. HIV is a powerful opponent, but scientists are constantly learning from one another and using advanced technology to fight it. Scientific understanding continues to improve all the time. The HVTN is leading the effort to build on what we’ve learned so far, and planning for several large studies is underway..
Not a scientist? The following pages will allow you to get familiar with the work of the HVTN, what we do, and how we do it. If you are a scientist, these pages may help you to communicate about what you do with study volunteers, friends, and family!