HIV vaccine could be on the horizon, scientists say

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Scientists believe they may be on the verge of developing a successful HIV vaccine, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A large-scale clinical trial will begin this fall, and several others are already underway. If successful, the vaccine could be combined with antiretroviral therapy and the daily PrEP pill to eliminate the virus altogether.

A fall trial, called Mosaico, will test a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which contains several HIV strains. Around 3,800 people will enroll in the study in North and South America and Europe, most of them gay and transgender people at high risk for HIV. The vaccine protected about 66 percent of non-human primates in preclinical trials.

Scientists are already testing a similar vaccine on 2,600 women in sub-Saharan Africa. Results will be available in 2021.

HIV presents a unique challenge for vaccine developers because, unlike diseases such as measles and polio, no patient has ever overcome the virus on his or her own. Scientists cannot mimic a natural infection that patients can then fight independently. HIV is also more genetically diverse than any other known virus, and it often mutates, producing several strains in different parts of the world. 

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