Reuters Health (11.02.01) - Friday, November 09, 2001
A vaccine against HIV is still realistically at least 5 years
away, said Dr. Robert Gallo, HIV co-discoverer and director of
the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland
in Baltimore, at the 1st World Congress on Men's Health in
Vienna, Austria. Gallo noted that antiretroviral drugs
developed in the 1990s have helped turn HIV infection into a
chronic disease -at least for those who have access to the
drugs. However, the "Holy Grail" of HIV research would be a
vaccine that prevents the infection from the start, he said.
"None of the available candidates out there at the moment will
be a success," said Gallo. "Therefore, I'm talking about
candidates that are on paper or in the laboratory setting.
It'll take a few years to get those out and a few years to get
data so the earliest I think we're talking about is not before
3, 4 years, and more likely 5 years." The good news is that
researchers are more optimistic about this goal than they have
been in the past. "I think all of us in the field feel much
better now than we did 5 years ago. Five years ago it looked
as if there were so many problems, but now there are a number
of things that have opened up for an HIV vaccine. We feel we
have a reasonably good chance of succeeding," Gallo explained.
"I believe that AIDS will very soon be the largest epidemic in
man's history. If someone asks me if the plague or AIDS was
worst, I would say the plague was bad because it killed
everybody, but then it disappeared, while AIDS is worse
because we can't get rid of it," Gallo said.