The CDC reported that 71 percent of this year’s populations infected by the virus who tested negative for co-infection have achieved complete viral suppression within 60 days of infection. As of Tuesday, this percentage stands at 72 percent among those with incomplete partial suppression. Those with partial suppression receive a less potent vaccine for this particular group.
According to data released Thursday, vaccines without a high degree of “unaccompanied” protection are not an effective means of reducing the risk of recurrence following a previous seropositive HIV infection.
This is important because once a person has confirmed infection, the risk of developing AIDS goes up dramatically. “Vaccine efficacy reduces the risk of developing AIDS by an estimated 50 percent, but we now know that effectiveness of a vaccine for HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome rates for uninfected adults are at least 50 percent lower than the effectiveness of vaccines for those with infection in previous years,” said Dr. Elaine Johnson, medical director for the HIV Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. “Yet, not all estimates of vaccine efficacy reveal such huge difference, as last year’s CDC report showed.”
Her research on this issue, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, reveals that while vaccines for HIV and AIDS stop the virus from replicating, they do not appear to protect against the return of the virus as a result of multiple individuals who have already been exposed to the virus.
That means a major concern among clinical workers, HIV patients and health care providers is not whether to offer one vaccine for asymptomatic people and another for people who have been exposed to the virus before, but whether to immunize them all because the vaccine’s results vary so much.
“The study demonstrates that it is wrong to immunize a large number of patients at once and confuse their preconceived notions of what virus is HIV,” said Dr. Erik Spangenthal, the principal investigator for New York City’s HIV Prevention and Care in the Absence of Viral Epidemic (PharmAWISE) initiative at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Dr. Johnson and Dr. Spangenthal will update their research as those who received the vaccine after low-quality procedures indicated an even higher rate of infection and total viral suppression.
According to the researchers, limited access to high-quality HIV testing (36 percent of HIV-positive adults lack even routine testing) and lack of access to post-treatment follow-up care for HIV-positive patients often leads to low cure rates.
There are still many barriers to universal availability of HIV vaccines, including the fact that the CDC has not conducted a large-scale national survey to evaluate the efficiency of vaccine vaccines and to suggest how to better design future studies.