IAVI – In Search Of An Effective HIV/AIDS Vaccine

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Gap Medics students with their mentor outside the hospital in Tanzania The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) works with partners all over the world to conduct diverse studies with the express aim of finding an effective vaccine against HIV and AIDS. The IAVI also conducts policy studies that help promote its main goal to find a preventive measure against this deadly disease and fights for the rights of people all over the world who need and want access to vaccines that will stop the HIV pandemic.

The search for an effective AIDS vaccine

There are numerous ways to create vaccines. The search for the right method can take several years or even decades. Many years of experimentation, testing, and evaluation are needed before a vaccine becomes can be considered ready for use on humans. Only when a vaccine formula is determined to be safe and effective can it be produced for mass consumption.

Some vaccines are created with whole intact virus that is no longer alive. The bacterium is killed and stripped of its ability to infect people. Some vaccines that are made this way are the injectable polio vaccine and the cholera vaccine. Scientists do not approach the creation of an HIV vaccine through this method out of fear that the virus will not be killed or properly inactivated which may expose people to the HIV virus.

  • Live Attenuated Vaccines: This method uses live pathogens of a disease but is not capable of causing illness to the person being vaccinated. This is how the measles vaccine is created as well as the oral vaccine against polio. Scientists prefer not to use this method to create an HIV vaccine out of fear that the HIV virus might actually cause an infection.
  • Subunit Vaccines: Vaccines can also be made using purified pathogens called antigens. This will induce an aggressive immune response to protect humans against disease. This is typically applied to the manufacturing of hepatitis B and seasonal flu vaccine. This was applied to an AIDS vaccine but failed to protect humans against the HIV virus.
  • DNA Vaccine: Vaccines made this way train a person’s immune system to identify antigens. This is a trial that is in progress to develop an effective HI/AIDS vaccine. This is not applied to any other known disease but is being experimented on for an HIV vaccine.
  • Recombinant Vector Vaccine: This is similar to the DNA based candidates that introduce genes that target antigens in humans. Genes are integrated into the virus that should be stripped of their ability to infect. This method is not used for any kind of vaccine but efforts are being applied to develop an AIDS vaccine using this method.

Who IAVI works with

The IAVI works with volunteers, world leaders, corporations, governments, medical experts, researchers, and other advocates in communities around the world. People in places like Africa and other countries most affected by HIV/AIDS are mobilised to support the initiative of finding an effective AIDS vaccine and to help communities develop an understanding of the organizations goals.

The organisation also works with civic leaders, medical experts, and societies at national and international levels to promote more support for IAVI programs and the advocacy to create an effective vaccine. 

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