For decades, people have been raising money in support of HIV vaccine research. That effort may come to fruition as soon as 2021. Currently, there are 3 vaccines in the clinical trial phase. Each focuses on a different demographic. HVTN 702 is the oldest trial. We expect to see the published results in 2020. Two of the newer vaccines will be tested on high-risk populations in South Africa and transgender/LGBT men in the US, Europe, and Latin America. While all three vaccines might ultimately fail, scientists consider this one of the most optimistic moments in HIV research history.
Currently, there have been only 3 cases of people who have been cured. Unfortunately, these “cures” were actually part of the treatment for deadly cancers, unrelated to the HIV status of the patients. In the last step of the cancer treatment, doctors performed bone marrow transplants to replace each patients’ immune system. This isn’t something doctors would ever put a healthy person through because the procedure is risky and can be life-threatening on its own.
Condoms and PrEP
Even without a vaccine, there are ways to protect yourself. Condoms are the oldest method. They work by providing a physical barrier between you and the virus. They’re cheap and almost everyone has easy access to condoms. Another option is PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), an antiretroviral drug that prevents HIV from attaching and infecting your T-Cells. Taken everyday, this medication is very effective at protecting those who are at high-risk. Unlike condoms, PrEP is expensive, costing about $1600/month without insurance. A hefty price to pay for those who are uninsured and at risk.