The Vaccine

What is a vaccine? How does it work?

A Simple Start, A Promising Future.

HIV VaccineVaccines—An Amazing Development

To learn more about HIV vaccine research studies in various phases, please visit: hvtn.org

Vaccines Past

More than 200 years ago, Edward Jenner, a country physician practicing in England, noted that milkmaids rarely suffered from pox, a disease that was known to kill 40% of those who contracted it. The milkmaids often did get cowpox, a related but far less serious disease, and those who did never became ill with smallpox. In an experiment that was to prove his theory, Jenner took a few drops of fluid from the skin sore of a woman who had cowpox and injected the fluid into the arm of a healthy young boy who had never had cowpox or smallpox. Six weeks later, Jenner injected the boy with fluid from a smallpox sore, but the boy remained healthy. This was the beginning of the first vaccine study.

Vaccines Present

Today, things are much different. Vaccine volunteers are totally voluntary and go through an Informed Consent process. They are advised of the required visits to the clinic and are educated in advance about every detail of the study. No living or killed virus or pieces of virus are used in HIV vaccine studies. Modern biotechnology allows us to create synthetic vaccines that trick the immune system into thinking it is seeing the actual virus, when it is really just a cleverly disguised protein.

Experimental Vaccines in Use Today

Peptide Vaccine: made of tiny pieces of proteins from the HIV virus. Recombinant Subunit Protein Vaccine: made of bigger pieces of proteins that are on the surface of the HIV virus. Examples of a recombinant subunit protein are gp120, gp140, or gp160 produced by genetic engineering.