Since the beginning of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, epidemic four decades ago, HIV has killed more than 36 million people worldwide, according to hiv.gov, with about 1.5 million people contracting the virus in 2020. However thanks to advanced treatment options and medications that keep the viral load suppressed, about 27 million of the 37 million people in the world with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, are living well. People with HIV who are aware of their status, take antiretroviral therapy medication daily as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long, healthy lives and have nearly no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
At Valley, we help prevent the spread of HIV and infections through our primary care services: HIV testing; treatment with antiretroviral therapy medication, or ART, which suppresses the virus; and proactive care which includes pre-exposure prophylaxis services, more commonly known as PrEP.
For more information on PreP services or LGBTQ care at VMC, please visit VMC’s LGBTQ+ Care & Services. See also Valley providers who offer LGBTQ+-specific services. To search for related services offered by some providers, click on Advanced Search +/- and enter a keyword such as PrEP, hormone therapy, or HIV.
First Human Clinical Trial for an mRNA-based HIV Vaccine Underway
Information adapted from ClinicalTrials.gov
mRNA technology has been in the news for months since the start of the pandemic. Based on the same mRNA platform as Moderna’s highly-effective COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna is now enrolling human subjects in a multiphase trial studying the use of mRNA-based vaccines for prevention of HIV transmission. This is the first clinical human trial of an mRNA-based HIV vaccine. The HIV vaccine is a collaboration between Moderna, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Like the COVID-19 virus, HIV also has a spike protein called the envelope protein, or Env for short. The shape of this protein varies among different strains of the HIV virus, making it harder to target with antibodies. In the phase 1 trial using Moderna’s technology, the mRNA vaccine will carry the instructions for a protein that stimulates the immune system to produce broad, neutralizing antibodies. This is key in the fight against HIV, as there are so many strains of the virus which change as they reproduce.
For more information or to keep up to date on the outcome of the Moderna HIV vaccine trial, follow trial updates via the U.S. National Library of Medicine clinical trial registry.