Antwerp scientists succeed with HIV vaccine

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The new vaccine has already been tested with very positive results.Doctors treating patients who are HIV+ currently use a cocktail of drugs, but these do not have any lasting effect. When the treatment with the drugs cocktail stops, the virus reappears in strength.

Treatment using the new vaccine should mean that this problem is a thing of the past. Under this treatment white blood cells are removed from the body and taught to recognise the HIV virus so that they can help to prevent attacks on the patient’s immune system.

Guido Vanham of Antwerp University said: “At the moment we have shown that we can suppress the growth of the virus, but we are not yet able to eradicate the virus itself. We have proved that the vaccine activates the immune system.”

Because the HIV virus is able to mutate very quickly a treatment that will lead to a complete recovery could still be some time off. In Belgium some 12,000 people are being treated for the HIV virus. Worldwide the figure is thought to be 34 million. During the past 25 years the virus is believed to have claimed 25 million lives.