Focusing on the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that are home to the vast majority of the world’s people living with HIV/AIDS, the study published in PLOS ONE shows that adding a vaccine could dramatically reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths even if other treatment and prevention tools are extensively scaled up.
For example, the analysis shows that a 70-percent-efficacious AIDS vaccine with strong uptake could reduce new annual HIV infections in LMICs by 44 percent in its first 10 years and by 65 percent in 25 years, ultimately averting tens of millions of infections and saving millions of lives.
The study also demonstrates that an AIDS vaccine would be impactful and cost-effective across a wide range of product characteristics. Higher efficacy, longer-lasting protection, fewer doses, lower vaccine costs and a more effective rollout will increase both health impact and cost-effectiveness. The data also illustrate how a vaccine could significantly reduce treatment costs and potentially total HIV/AIDS response costs over time.
“These new analyses underscore the powerful potential of an AIDS vaccine to help save and improve the lives of millions in a cost-effective manner,” said Mark Feinberg, President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), which conducted the study in partnership with AVAC and Avenir Health. “It is clear that we must continue to expedite development of an effective HIV vaccine alongside the critical efforts to accelerate and sustain broad and equitable access to effective antiretroviral therapy and new approaches for pre-exposure prophylaxis.”
“Adding a vaccine to a comprehensive HIV/AIDS response will hasten the end of the global epidemic and ensure that it won’t rebound,” said AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren. “A safe, effective and affordable AIDS vaccine is an essential complement to the existing treatment and prevention options, and this study highlights why accelerated investments are needed for both implementation of what we have and the development of what we still need.”
The new study builds on the UNAIDS Investment Framework Enhanced, which articulates how accelerated scale-up of existing HIV/AIDS interventions and the addition of new prevention options could significantly change the trajectory of the global epidemic. The new study adds extensive analysis on the impact of key characteristics of a vaccine (efficacy, duration of protection, number of doses) and of vaccination programs (how many people would be covered with how many visits, cost per regimen, etc.).
The study was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 120 countries worldwide.