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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
HIV Researcher Says Vaccine Not Impossible

November 9, 2001
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.