HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD) is observed annually on May 18th and provides an opportunity to recognize and thank the many volunteers, community members, health professionals, and scientists who are working together to find a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine. It is also a day to educate communities across the nation about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research.
The MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS in collaboration with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Makerere University Walter Reed Project observed the day at a community event in Nateete, a Kampala suburb. Dr. Monica Kuteesa, a senior scientist at the MRC/UVRI, commended the different categories of people involved in the search for a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine.
She informed participants who included community members, study participants, local leaders and the media that there was hope that an HIV vaccine would be found, though it is still not possible to put timelines to it. ““The design of RV144 vaccine in the Thai trial that induced modest protection in a trial in Thailand has been improved and is being tested in trials in South Africa and Thailand. One of the products has also been tested in Uganda and the results show that the vaccine induced the desired antibodies”, Dr. Kuteesa noted.
An on-going HIV vaccine trial at the UVRI in collaboration with IAVI, Entebbe and Makerere University Walter Reed project, is testing 3 experimental vaccine candidates in a Phase 1/2a trial. The trial sponsored by Janssen, a pharmaceutical company of Johnson and Johnson, is testing so far one of the most immunogenic vaccines, the Ad26 Mosaic vaccine, given in combination with MVA mosaic vaccine and another vaccine gp 140 clade C. The trial is a multi-site study being conducted in Uganda, USA, Rwanda, South Africa and Thailand among healthy HIV negative volunteers.
An UVRI-IAVI screening started on the 13th July 2015 and enrolled 45 participants while at the Makerere University Walter Reed Project site (MUWRP), screening started on 10th August 2015 and 26 participants were enrolled.
Enrolment is completed at both sites and participants are being followed up.
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