Why Can’t an HIV Vaccine Be Rushed Like Ebola’s?

Why Isn't There an AIDS Vaccine Yet? 0:42

Scientists studying HIV say they're under new pressure to come up with a vaccine because of the quick response to Ebola. Last week the World Health Organization announced that a trial Ebola vaccine could be rolled out in West Africa by January and the first human trials began in the United States.

While HIV researchers have made advances towards a vaccine, Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh, who is co-chairing a conference of more than 1,300 HIV researchers in Cape Town this week, called the virus "crafty" in its latency. Unlike Ebola, it can live inside the body for a long period of time without a person showing symptoms and will never leave.

There is another difference between Ebola and HIV. Ebola has survivors. HIV does not. Because there are survivors of Ebola, scientists have been able to create a model for immunity and test vaccines and cures, resulting in far more robust data than is currently available for HIV.

“It’s not unusual for viruses to take a long time to be figured out.” Amapola Manrique of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise said. “I think people are getting a little impatient here.”


-Tracy Jarrett