We reported two weeks ago that new HIV infections in Germany in 2011 should be down about 7% and a UNAIDS report says the same is happening worldwide: "New HIV infections continue to fall and more people than ever are starting treatment", they said in their World AIDS day report. People on treatment are much less infectious, which explains why the two go hand in hand.
Now we read in New Scientist about a novel approach to an HIV vaccine. Vaccines have had very limited success, some can reduce the risk of infection thus decreasing total new infections, but not enough for me to say: Right, I'll give up the condoms.
This one does not work by priming the immune system, which is compromised as soon as you get the infection. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a way of getting genes into muscles which pump out HIV antibodies. Muscle tissue is not invaded by a new HIV infection. So HIV entering the body is attacked by the antibodies coming from these well hidden factories. So far they have only tested it on mice equipped with human immune systems. The little furry animals remained HIV free, even when injected with a hundred times the amount of HIV virus that will usually infect them. The researchers say that they will be able to start testing in humans in about two years.
Could it be safe to go to Berlin sex clubs without any condoms in four years time?