HIV/AIDS vaccine: Why don’t we have one after 37 years, when we have several for COVID-19 after a few months?

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Smallpox has been eradicated from the face of the Earth following a highly effective, worldwide vaccination campaign. Paralytic poliomyelitis is no longer a problem in the U.S. because of development and use of effective vaccines against the poliovirus.

In current times, millions of lives have been saved because of rapid deployment of effective vaccines against COVID-19. And yet, it has been 37 years since HIV was discovered as the cause of AIDS, and there is no vaccine. Here I will describe the difficulties facing development of an effective vaccine against HIV/AIDS.

I am a professor of pathology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. My laboratory is credited with the discovery of the monkey virus called SIV, or simian immunodeficiency virus.

SIV is the close monkey relative of the virus that causes AIDS in humans – HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. My research has contributed importantly to the understanding of the mechanisms by which HIV causes disease and to vaccine development efforts.

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