How you can Help Make History
In 1983 the virus causing HIV was first identified, 2 years
after the first patients with AIDS were described in the scientific
literature. By 1984 there was a reliable test that, if positive,
meant an individual had acquired HIV. It was already
suspected that AIDS was transmitted through body fluids, but having
the test helped to confirm this and to create a clearer picture of
who was at high risk, and which countries had the highest
proportion of positive individuals.
Today, the global burden of HIV is greatest in sub-Saharan
Africa and these countries are struggling to deliver treatment and
care to an ever increasing number of HIV positive individuals.
Back in the ‘80s, there was great hope for an effective vaccine,
especially as so many viral disease can be controlled this way
(such as measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B). However, in the
case of HIV infection, unlike many other viral infections, there
are no immune markers of natural protection yet. Some rare
individuals progress more slowly to disease after being infected,
and scientists have tried to work out which of their responses to
copy, but they still don’t know. Five trials of potential HIV
vaccines have gone all the way through to the stage of testing for
protection, and one of these reported moderate effectiveness – not
good enough to roll out, but good enough to build on.
Another approach to prevention was microbicides. This is the
term used to describe products with activity against HIV that are
formulated for genital use (ie applied in the vagina or rectum).
Far more of these have reached the final stage of testing and there
have been 11 trials, but so far none have reported significant
Before any of these large trials can be conducted, smaller
studies need to be carried out using the same products in healthy
volunteers. The purpose of these smaller studies is to see whether
the new drug , vaccine or treatment is safe and shows enough
promise to warrant larger scale investigation. These studies are
the foundation of new treatments and we are looking for altruistic
individuals who would be willing to volunteer to participate in
studies like these.
now to become a volunteer