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Moderna starts HIV vaccine trials

FILE - A sign marks an entrance to a Moderna building in Cambridge, Mass., on Monday, May 18,...
FILE - A sign marks an entrance to a Moderna building in Cambridge, Mass., on Monday, May 18, 2020. On Thursday, the pharmaceutical company announced it has begun trials on an mRNA vaccine against HIV.(AP Photo/Bill Sikes, File)
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 10:54 AM CST
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(Gray News) - Early Phase 1 trials of an HIV vaccine have started, Moderna announced Thursday.

The vaccine under development uses mRNA, or messenger RNA, to provoke an immune response.

First doses were given Thursday at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. The trials will be taking place at Hope Clinic of Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the University of Texas-Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The tests will involve 56 healthy, HIV-negative adult volunteers, who will all be given various doses of the vaccine, some even getting a booster, to see if they provoke a sufficient immune response. Researchers will monitor the vaccine for safety and usefulness for six months after the last shot.

There is currently no cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, though people who have it can control it with treatments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Vaccines using mRNA help prime the immune system against targeted viruses and are currently being used in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

Moderna is working in partnership with nonprofit scientific research organization IAVI, Scripps Research and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“At Moderna, we believe that mRNA offers a unique opportunity to address critical unmet public health needs around the world,” said Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna. “We believe advancing this HIV vaccine program in partnership with IAVI and Scripps Research is an important step in our mission to deliver on the potential for mRNA to improve human health.”

The CDC estimated 1,189,700 people in the U.S. had HIV at the end of 2019, the most recent year known, with about 87% knowing they had HIV.

The South has the highest number of people living with HIV, but when adjusted for population, the Northeast has the highest rate of people living with HIV.

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