Due to numerous scientific difficulties, the earliest date an effective HIV vaccine could be developed and licensed is 2009, according to Seth Berkley, president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. The estimate is "based on current timetables," Berkley said Wednesday, referring to the time it takes for experimental drugs and vaccines to move through complex testing phases. He said that one or two potential vaccines could begin clinical trials next year, with the tests lasting four or five years. Another four vaccine candidates IAVI considers promising are in earlier stages of development.
What had at one time been considered the best hope for an effective HIV vaccine, AIDSVAX, was found in February to be ineffective at preventing HIV transmissions, reducing overall risk by just 3.8%. However, AIDSVAX researchers are continuing to study trial data that showed the vaccine might be more effective among Asians and African-Americans. IAVI said the delay in creating an effective HIV vaccine is due both to variations in the virus from region to region across the world, which have hampered the creation of a single vaccine effective against all the strains, and the reluctance of pharmaceutical companies to fund vaccine research. Drug companies see little profit in an HIV vaccine because most of the market for it would be in the developing world.