If all goes well, the makers believe we could have a vaccine for HIV in our lifetime.
Johnson & Johnson have announced plans to bring an HIV vaccine to large-scale efficacy testing in humans, making it the first to ever reach this stage of testing.
The vaccine has been designed to treat all strains of HIV, has had already proven to be 100% effective at achieving immunity against the virus after a trial of 350 volunteers.
“Today we are thrilled to announce for the first time, that we are going into large-scale efficacy testing of the HIV vaccine in humans,” announced Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson.
“As a scientist and a physician, I can tell you that this vaccine holds the promise of groundbreaking development.”
The Gates Foundation and the National Institute of Health will now help test the vaccine on a larger sample of humans.
For this first large trial, the most at-risk people in the population will receive the vaccination and will include 2,600 young women (18-35 years) from five different African nations.
“We all know that science is unpredictable,” Stoffels added. “But these results make me more optimistic than ever that we will get to a vaccine in our lifetime and prevent people from contracting HIV forever.”
Stoffels made the monumental announcement at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City over the weekend, alongside Whoopi Goldberg and Hugh Jackman.
Since 1981, HIV/AIDS has more than 36 million people across the world, while 2 million new people acquire the virus each year.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation added HIV prevention drug PrEP to its list of essential medicines.
PrEP – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – is an anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of contracting the infection.
Although the drug can cost up to £400 per patient a month, because multiple studies across the world have shown the medication to be an effective way of reducing the risk of contracting HIV, it is widely deemed a cost-effective way of working towards eliminating the virus.
NHS England was due to launch their trials of the drug over the summer, but have yet to make it available.
Words by Lewis Corner