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The African HIV vaccine trial was halted due to ineffectiveness.

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The African HIV vaccine trial was halted due to ineffectiveness.
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Wema Bank Alat

The African HIV vaccine trial was halted due to ineffectiveness.

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The trial’s lead investigator announced the early termination of an experimental vaccine trial in Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa after preliminary data suggested it was ineffective in preventing infection.

The trial, which is part of the larger PrEPVacc initiative, began in December 2020, enrolling 1,512 healthy adults aged 18-40, and was originally scheduled to conclude in 2024.

Pontiano Kaleebu, the chief investigator for the program, revealed that the independent data and safety monitoring committee recommended discontinuation as continued efforts were unlikely to demonstrate the vaccine’s efficacy.

What you should know

HIV, a virus that has claimed around 40 million lives globally, with an additional 39 million individuals living with the virus, predominantly in Africa, continues to pose challenges in the search for a vaccine.

Although there are drugs available to reduce HIV risk and control the virus, a vaccine remains a crucial tool in curbing AIDS as a public health threat.

The trial, led by African researchers and supported by several European institutions, including Imperial College London, investigated two combinations of experimental HIV vaccines.

Additionally, it tested a new form of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug mitigating HIV risk, aiming to assess its efficacy compared to existing drugs. While the vaccine trial was unsuccessful, the PrEP segment of the trial remains ongoing.

Most participants were sourced from high-risk populations, including sex workers, gay men, and fishermen. The outcome underscores the formidable challenges in developing an effective HIV vaccine, as acknowledged in a statement by the vaccine trial program.

It’s worth noting that this trial was the sole remaining active HIV vaccine efficacy trial globally.

In a similar development in 2020, South African researchers terminated another trial involving over 5,000 participants after a vaccine failed to demonstrate benefits.

HIV in Nigeria

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s report showed that Nigeria has 1.9 million people with HIV/AIDS, making Nigeria the country with the highest number of HIV infections in Africa.

According to the Lancet, Benue State has the highest prevalence, followed by Rivers and Akwa Ibom.

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