Forty Years Later, No HIV & AIDS Vaccine
21 August 2021
The year 2021 marks forty years since the first men died from HIV and AIDS in California, yet, scientists have not yet found the vaccine to cure the disease.
Africa is the most hit continent with an estimated 25.7 million people living with HIV found on the continent.
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According to surveys conducted in 2020, Zimbabwe accounts for 1.23 million.
In June 1981, United States epidemiologists reported five cases of a rare form of pneumonia in gay men from California, some of whom had died.
In March 1987, the first anti-retroviral treatment known as AZT was authorised in the US. It was expensive and had many side effects.
In 1999, the WHO and the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that 50 million had contracted HIV of whom 16 million had died.
In 2003, US President George Bush launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, to combat the spread of AIDS in 15 of the hardest-hit areas of Africa and the Caribbean.
In 2009 the first known patient cured of HIV was announced. The “Berlin Patient,” later named American Timothy Brown, underwent two transplants of bone marrow containing a mutation of a gene that blocks HIV from attacking host cells.
He underwent total body irradiation to treat leukaemia and nearly did not survive the process.
In July 2012 the first-ever daily pill to help prevent HIV infection is approved by US regulators. Truvada is pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, taken by high-risk people who are HIV-negative in order to prevent them from being infected.
In 2019, the ‘London Patient’ became the second patient with sustained HIV suppression to be reported after undergoing a transplant of stem cells with the same mutation as in the Berlin case.
Regular testing has confirmed that the patient’s viral load remained undetectable for 19 months and counting.
The success in producing an anti-Covid vaccine in 2020 fuels hopes that a breakthrough in securing a shot against HIV might finally be close.