The St. Stephen’s Centre at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London is preparing for the start of a new trial to test an HIV vaccine candidate. The trial is anticipated to provide important information on the ability of the vaccine to stimulate an immune response that may be able to protect against HIV infection and AIDS.
A vaccine is desperately needed to help control the AIDS epidemic and to stop the spread of HIV. This virus continues to infect people around the world, especially women and young people. Around the world, nearly 7,500 people every day become infected and face the challenge of living with a virus that is with them for life and a disease for which is there is no cure.
“I have treated people living with HIV for almost 25 years, and while drugs have prolonged the lives of many, they alone are not the solution to ending AIDS,” according to professor Brian Gazzard, medical doctor at the St. Stephen’s Centre and the investigator of this trial. “Prevention is the priority and a vaccine is one of the most powerful prevention tools we know.”
While existing HIV prevention methods have saved many lives, scientists agree that the best hope for ending the AIDS pandemic is a preventive AIDS vaccine. Immunization is one of the most effective public health measures available to modern medicine—it has helped eradicate smallpox and has greatly reduced the number of polio and rubella infections. Most of us have been vaccinated and we live free from fear of infection by many other deadly bacteria and viruses.
HIV has proven to be one of the most complex viruses we have ever encountered, and the discovery of a vaccine is regarded by many as one of the greatest challenges in medicine today.
There are many ways to help in the search for an HIV vaccine. Being a volunteer in a trial is one such contribution. Worldwide, around 35,000 men and women have participated in HIV vaccine clinical trials. A volunteer who participated in such a study in the UK several years ago noted: “I'm taking part in this trial as I believe that finding an effective vaccine is our best hope to control this devastating disease.”
The trial at the St. Stephen’s Centre at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is still looking for healthy male and female volunteers between 18 and 50 years of age. It is absolutely not possible for the vaccine to cause HIV infection or AIDS. People who are willing to contribute to the trial can help us move one step closer to achieving a world without AIDS. If you are interested, or if you would like to learn more about this trial, please contact the St. Stephen’s Centre at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital at 020 8846 6522 or 020 8746 5603. For more information on AIDS vaccine research, please visit: www.iavi.org.