Dr. Alan Bernstein, a frontrunner in the exploration of a vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) responsible for getting AIDS, recently said that the latest progresses made in this field have provided fresh reasons to be optimistic. The executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, Dr. Bernstein told The Associated Press (AP) in an interview regarding the first ever successful trial of an experimental AIDS vaccine worldwide. According to the researchers who conducted a big study in Thailand on the subject, the new vaccine has been found to be effective in saving one among every three persons from getting HIV.
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Dr. Bernstein has further indicated to the latest advancements made in deciding whether or not people having HIV generate antibodies that may perhaps make it possible to develop a vaccine that will be able to defend people from several types of HIV. At the same time, the scientist remarked that there has been some extent of advancement in recording the different variants of what he describes as 'clever virus', which has hitherto avoided efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV as it exterminates a number of vital cells required to prepare any vaccine. Describing the present period as a 'very exciting time' for all involved in the search for a vaccine against HIV, Dr. Bernstein expressed hope saying that it was very much doable to develop a vaccine against the deadly disease and asserted that now they possessed the scientific means required to transform the prospect into realism.
While Dr. Bernstein remarked that the effort to find a new vaccine had now turned a new leaf following numerous impediments, he warned that it would take many years from now to develop a vaccine that will effectively protect people from different forms of HIV.
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However, not everyone is as hopeful as Dr. Bernstein regarding the development of a vaccine against HIV.
For instance, the director of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa, Salim Karim said that he would be very happy if he could also say that the prospects of developing a vaccine against HIV is bright. Unfortunately, he said that he was not that optimistic. According to Karim, who has already spent over 15 years of his life in searching an effective vaccine against HIV, the effort to develop a vaccine against HIV is actually turning out to be a test that is more complicated than what was believed earlier. Karim was of the view that it would take a minimum of another 15 years to develop an effective vaccine against HIV.
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Describing the study undertaken by scientists in Thailand as a 'flicker', Karim emphasized on the fact that henceforth scientists need to make the experimental vaccine better in order to make it effective to save at least one third of the people who get HIV from any harm and last out for more than the period of six months to a year - the approximate period for which the trial vaccine has been found to be effective. Meanwhile, many have raised questions regarding the possibility of developing a vaccine against HIV and also if it was judicious to dedicate the amount of time and effort that was being spent by scientists in search of such a vaccine. However, Dr. Bernstein, who was recently in South Africa as the chief of a global group of foremost researchers and sponsors to thrash out policy with the United Nations officials overseeing health and AIDS, is of the opinion that the scientist ought to make a concerted and comprehensive effort to develop a vaccine that would not only be effective against HIV, but also AIDS.
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It may be mentioned here that as many as 5.7 million people have HIV in South Africa, which has an approximate population of 50 million. The percentage of people infected with HIV in South Africa is the highest among any other country worldwide. Waking up to this reality, the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma announced on the occasion of the World AIDS Day last year that henceforth the government would initiate an earlier as well as a long-drawn-out treatment for all those infected with AIDS in the country. Zuma's declaration has been viewed as a remarkable change from the previous policy of the South African government. The new initiative is expected to launch shortly.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bernstein has said that developing a vaccine against HIV would be especially imperative for Africa, as the campaigns for prevention and treatment of the deadly disease have proved to be too expensive in this continent. According to him, dissimilar to the costly AIDS regimen that continues for the entire life of the patient, a vaccine would be administered to people once in a couple of years. Dr. Bernstein described a vaccine as the most effectual measure for public health administration that the scientists have been able to furnish so far.
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According to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, which concentrates as well as brings together studies into vaccines against different HIV strains that are widespread in the developing nations of the world, a vaccine ought to be a major element of an all-inclusive solution to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Substantiating its view, the global body points out that thus far it has not been possible to crush any significant viral plague with no vaccine.
A latest document that sums up the results submitted at a symposium of vaccine researchers held last year says that while HIV continues to pose harsh trials to the scientists, the search for a vaccine against the deadly viral infection is progressing gradually. The report published in the May edition of the Lancet Infectious Diseases periodical states that the immense global endeavour to hit upon a vaccine against AIDS has actually had several significant consequences - making available facts that have helped to develop several new vaccines for the treatment of different maladies.
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