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HIV Vaccine Awareness Day: Building on the Success of RV144

May 18, 2016
A message from MHRP Director Col. Nelson Michael

As we mark HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, the research community is accelerating progress against HIV on all fronts.  We are coming together now more than ever—countries, organizations, prevention tools, research disciplines, and government agencies—in an unprecedented effort to control the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Today the NIH announced that the first large-scale clinical trial of an HIV vaccine in more than seven years has been approved to proceed in South Africa. This new study, called HVTN 702, will conclusively determine whether an experimental regimen is safe and effective at preventing HIV infection in South African adults. As one of many private-public collaborators involved in this trial, U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) is proud to be part of this initiative to develop a public health tool for one of the regions of the world hit hardest by this epidemic.

The HVTN702 study is using a vaccine similar to that tested in the RV144 Thai trial, a landmark 2009 study showing that a vaccine can protect people from HIV infection, that was led by MHRP and funded by the Army and NIH. In this new study, the design and schedule of the RV144 vaccine regimen have been adjusted to try to increase the magnitude and duration of vaccine-elicited immune responses.

This efficacy study is not the only reason for optimism; there is a robust pipeline of vaccine candidates and other novel prevention approaches under development. For example, MHRP is working with Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson on a novel vaccine combination that is in clinical testing and may advance to efficacy testing next year. 

MHRP—centered at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research—has been working to combat HIV for 30 years.  We remain committed to developing a globally-effective HIV vaccine which, in combination with other proven prevention strategies, would enable us not only to protect our Service Members from HIV, but could also help ensure a durable end to the global HIV epidemic.

COL Nelson Michael, MD, PhD
Director, MHRP

For more information on HVTN702, please visit the NIAID website.