HIV vaccine ‘reduces infection’

Diagram of the HIV virus.
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An experimental HIV vaccine has for the first time cut the risk of infection, researchers say.

The vaccine – a combination of two earlier experimental vaccines – was given to 16,000 people in Thailand, in the largest ever such vaccine trial.

Researchers found that it reduced by nearly a third the risk of contracting HIV, the virus that leads to Aids.

It has been hailed as a significant, scientific breakthrough, but a global vaccine is still some way off.

The study was carried out by the US army and the Thai government over seven years on volunteers – all HIV-negative men and women aged between 18 and 30 – in parts of Thailand.

The vaccine was a combination of two older vaccines that on their own had not cut infection rates.

Half of the volunteers were given the vaccine, while the other half were given a placebo – and all were given counselling on HIV/Aids prevention.

Participants were tested for HIV infection every six months for three years.

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The results found that the chances of catching HIV were 31.2% less for those who had taken the vaccine – with 74 people who did not get the vaccine infected and 51 of the vaccinated group infected.

The vaccine is based on B and E strains of HIV that most commonly circulate in Thailand not the C strain which predominates in Africa.

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