Scientists hope vaccine set for large-scale trial will dramatically reduce HIV transmissions

Blood test tubes

A new HIV vaccine could be the “final nail in the coffin”, say scientists.

The HVTN 702 trial which is set to begin in South Africa, will involve 5,400 sexually active people aged between 18 and 35.

The subjects for the trial will be based across 15 different locations.

The HVTN 702 is set to be the biggest and most advanced HIV vaccine clinical trial to take place in the country.

More than 1,000 people a day become infected with HIV in South Africa.

In a statement, Anthony Fauci, director of the US Government’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: “If deployed alongside our current armoury of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV.

“Even a moderately effective vaccine would significantly decrease the burden of HIV disease over time in countries and populations with high rates of HIV infection, such as South Africa,” he adds.

This latest vaccine hopes to be able to offer better protection than a previous trial of the vaccine which took place in 2009 in Thailand.

The previous result was that the drug could be 31.2 percent effective at preventing HIV infections over a 3.5 year period.

“HIV has taken a devastating toll in South Africa, but now we begin a scientific exploration that could hold great promise for our country,” says Glenda Gray, the chief executive of the South African Medical Research Council.

“If an HIV vaccine were found to work in South Africa, it could dramatically alter the course of the pandemic,” she continues.

Volunteers, who will receive five injections per year, will either receive the vaccine, or they will receive a placebo.

Any subject of the trial who becomes HIV-positive, will be referred to medical professionals for care and treatment, and will be given information to help reduce the risk of them transmitting the virus.

The results of the study will be published in late 2020.