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DNA vaccines are the most common strategy used for AIDS vaccine development and many volunteers are currently undergoing DNA vaccines test. Other types of AIDS vaccines development strategy which exist but not widely used are: Recombinant Vector and Subunit Vaccines Development strategy.
AIDS vaccines developments have been going on for many years through world major companies like Merck and Vagen receiving a lot of financial support from Governments and Non-governmental Organizations. It was hoped that AIDS vaccine would be available by the end of 1986 as announced by Margaret Heckler, the then United States Health and Human Services Secretary. 21 years down the line, there is still no sign of successful development of AIDS vaccine. Currently there are over 3000 volunteer world wide that are assisting in AIDS vaccine trials.
Many AIDS vaccine trail have in most cases put the volunteer at a risk of being infected with HIV. A pointing example is last fall’s test by Merck, which turned out to be a complete failure, leaving many volunteers more vulnerable to HIV infection. No conclusive reasons have been given yet by Merck why the vaccine failed.
Such incidences are causing public out cry and many experts are calling for a time-out, until new strategies are discovered and put in place to put a check on the ever changing AIDS virus. According to Dr. Tony Fauci of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “when the STEP trial failed, it caused all of us to drop back a few yard……..we’ve got to rethink these things”. So far there is no practical hope that ongoing AIDS vaccine development will produce tangible results, According to one of the leading AIDS vaccine expert Mr. Desrosiers, “There is no rational basis for believing that any of the products in the pipeline have any reasonable hope of being effective,”
One thing that comes out very Cleary with Merck vaccine study is that the risk of getting HIV infection is high in those volunteer who have not been circumcised. The explanations given by AIDS researcher at Merck suggests that AIDS vaccine activates the white blood cells near the surface of the foreskin making them more susceptible to infections. As a result, future test will not involve those participants who are not circumcised to reduce the risks of infection among the volunteers.
The AIDS researching community must contend with the hard reality that HIV is the most elusive virus. Its ability to mutate to different resistant form makes it impossible to come up with a perfect vaccine that will work to combat the virus. According to a leading researcher with Merck, Dr. Susan Buchbinder, a new approach is necessary if any tangible results are to be expected as “we have a huge epidemic on our hands”. This is in agreement with Desrosiers who notes that HIV virus has “the uncanny ability to replicate continuously, no matter what we throw at it…….. And we don’t even know what constitutes an effective immune response.” All these sentiments call for ‘going back’ to the drawing board, to re-think and research differently from the convectional methods that have been used since 1984.
A close contact will have to be kept between researchers and volunteers to avoid any complication resulting from AIDS vaccines. Clinical trials will have to continue as they will form the base for new strategy in AIDS vaccines development.
Sabin Russell, AIDS Vaccine Research. 2006. Web.