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How close are we to getting a vaccine for HIV?

Vaccines are at the forefront of many people’s minds at the moment.

Covid has shown us how quickly vaccinations can be developed and how new technology can be pioneered to benefit our collective public health.

So, what does this mean for the future – and for illnesses beyond Covid?

While the future of health developments can’t be predicted with complete certainty, one thing that is definitely in the pipeline is an HIV vaccine.

We asked some experts to answer some key questions you might have about it…

Are trials taking place for an HIV vaccine?

There isn’t currently a vaccine either to prevent HIV or to treat it – but one is in the works.

Over the last couple of years, vaccines have been trialled, with one trial happening Oxford in 2021 and others taking place this year.

Professor Tomáš Hanke, a professor who worked on the trial with the University of Oxford, said: ‘This trial is the first in a series of evaluations of this novel vaccine strategy in both HIV-negative individuals for prevention and in people living with HIV for cure.’

While the results were due to be published in April this year, they haven’t yet been made available.

Work is actively being taken to continue this progress, but due to the fact that the results are not all finalised and trials are still happening, it’s not yet how many doses someone would need, or the level of effectiveness what would be achieved with an HIV vaccine.

How long could it take to be ready?

Cheryl Gowar, senior policy manager at National AIDS Trust, says: ‘Even in the best-case scenario, if first-stage clinical trials are successful, it will still be quite a few years before a vaccine could be available.

‘This is due to the time it takes to make sure a vaccine is safe and effective, before it can be approved for use.’

A vaccine for HIV is still some years off, and while it would be an ‘exciting development’, Cheryl says it’s not vital for HIV treatment and prevention due to current treatments available.

Help us raise £10k for Kyiv Pride and a UK LGBT+ charity

To celebrate 50 years of Pride, Metro.co.uk has teamed up with Kyiv Pride to raise money for their important work in Ukraine.

Despite war raging around them, Kyiv Pride continue to help LGBTQ+ people, offering those in need shelter, food and psychological support.

We will be splitting the cash with a grassroots charity closer to home.

You can donate here

Has the Covid vaccine affected progress?

Yes – and in a good way.

Cheryl says: ‘The Covid vaccine has shown that mRNA vaccines can be safe and effective, so it has provided a boost to new avenues for HIV vaccine research.’

Technology used to create the Covid vaccine has been useful in the creation of HIV trial vaccines – so we need to watch this space.

What else do you need to know?

She continues: ‘An HIV vaccine would be an exciting development, but we already have the tools needed to end HIV transmissions.

‘We have a free, effective prevention drug, PrEP, which needs to be more accessible to those who need it. And current treatment options reduce levels of HIV in the body to the point that they are undetectable and the virus can’t be passed on.’

Even if we have a vaccine ready tomorrow, there are still 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK – some of whom are undiagnosed.

A vaccine is just a small piece in the puzzle of our medical future, as there is plenty more that needs to happen around prioritising those with HIV – not just those without it.

Cheryl adds: ‘We need to make sure we’re prioritising the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of people already living with HIV as much as we’re focused on preventing new transmissions.’

Alongside a new vaccine, we’ll likely see greater accessibility of PrEP treatment and more people with the virus who are unable to spread it.

Do you have a story to share?

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Metro.co.uk celebrates 50 years of Pride

This year marks 50 years of Pride, so it seems only fitting that Metro.co.uk goes above and beyond in our ongoing LGBTQ+ support, through a wealth of content that not only celebrates all things Pride, but also share stories, take time to reflect and raises awareness for the community this Pride Month.

MORE: Find all of Metro.co.uk’s Pride coverage right here

And we’ve got some great names on board to help us, too. From a list of famous guest editors taking over the site for a week that includes Rob Rinder, Nicola Adams, Peter Tatchell, Kimberly Hart-Simpson, John Whaite, Anna Richardson and Dr Ranj, we’ll also have the likes Sir Ian McKellen and Drag Race stars The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi offering their insights. 

During Pride Month, which runs from 1 – 30 June, Metro.co.uk will also be supporting Kyiv Pride, a Ukrainian charity forced to work harder than ever to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community during times of conflict. To find out more about their work, and what you can do to support them, click here.

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