It’s taken two decades of research, but after winning approval from the FDA in 2011 a group of scientists from Canada began testing it on humans. According to Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, professor of virology at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, the vaccine has been in development for ten years.
The vaccine, called SAV001, is the very first preventative HIV vaccine approved for clinical trials to use a dead HIV-1 virus to try and activate the immune response in humans. For those who don’t know, that’s basically how a vaccine works.
When you get a flu shot, for example, you’re basically being injected with dead influenza virus so that your immune system can absorb it without actually getting you infected. That might make you think that if a dead virus is all it takes to vaccinate something, we should already have a vaccine for HIV.
The problem is the virus has to be rendered non-pathogenic first, or non disease causing. This preliminary HIV vaccine trial is the first to have overcome that obstacle.