Ugandan researchers optimistic about HIV vaccine

HIV Experts from the Vaccine Interest Group (VIG) have said researchers are in advanced stages of finding preventive and therapeutic vaccines for HIV

HIV experts from the Vaccine Interest Group (VIG) have said researchers are in advanced stages of finding preventive and therapeutic vaccines for the epidemic.

According to the experts, there are currently four trials at advanced stages, whose results will be out by 2020. VIG is composed of researchers from Makerere University Walter Reed Project, Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), school of tropical medicine and hygiene and Joint Clinical Research centre among others.

The experts made the statements during an HIV Awareness Day organized by VIG in partnership with the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Quality Health Service Delivery and Makerere University Water Reed Project (MUWRP).

According to Dr Francis Kiweewa, the head of research at MUWRP, the world has been undertaking research, with Uganda as major player for over 20 years now. He says it is likely the vaccine for HIV Aids, will be finalised in 2020.

Kiweewa says that there are four clinical trials in phase three which means that the candidates are beginning to show progress. He says other trials are being done in North and South America and Europe.

Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, the Director of UVRI, says several studies on the vaccine will soon be conducted in Uganda, with funding from the Bill and Melinda gates foundation. He identified Masaka as one of the areas of study for the vaccine.

MUWRP’s Executive Director, Dr Hannah Kibuuka says the prevalence of HIV is reducing but at a slow pace.

“In Uganda, HIV prevalence has declined to 6.5 percent, but this is still significant because by 2016, only 67% of adults on ARTs have access to treatment,” Dr. Kibuuka said.

Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga commended VIG for their relentless search for the HIV vaccine. She pledged more funding for research to the team.

1.4 million people in Uganda are living with HIV , with 67% of adults on anti-retroviral and 47 children on anti-retroviral. There are 28,000 aids related deaths annually.

URN