Feb 3, 2020 - Health

Clinical trial for HIV vaccine ends in failure

an experimental vaccine against the AIDS virus
The experimental vaccine against the AIDS virus for the 2016 clinical trial. Photo: Mujahid Safodien/AFP via Getty Images

A vaccine aimed at preventing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has failed and will end its clinical trial in South Africa early, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Why it matters: About 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organization. South Africa has one of the highest HIV rates in the world, with young women especially at risk.

"An HIV vaccine is essential to end the global pandemic, and we hoped this vaccine candidate would work. Regrettably, it does not. Research continues on other approaches to a safe and effective HIV vaccine, which I still believe can be achieved."
ā€” Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, said in a written statement on Monday

Details: The trial, sponsored by NIAID, began in 2016 with 5,407 HIV-negative volunteers across South Africa and was supposed to end in July 2022.

  • 129 HIV infections occurred among the vaccine recipients, and 123 HIV infections occurred among the placebo recipients.
  • There is no evidence that the vaccine caused harm, NIAID said.
  • The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise expressed "deep disappointment" in learning the trial was ending, according to a statement.

What's next: Two late-stage, multinational HIV vaccine trials are still being conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Go deeper: HIV-positive babies could benefit from treatment days after birth

Go deeper