FDA Approves Human Trials For Experimental HIV Vaccine

For those of us who grew up in the 80s as the HIV/AIDS epidemic was just starting, this is the kind of news that you’d never thought you’d see:

Canadian researchers received approval Tuesday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin testing an experimental and potentially breakthrough HIV vaccine on human subjects with the first phase of clinical trials scheduled for January, the National Post has reported.

The vaccine could be a milestone achievement in HIV prevention because it works similarly to existing vaccines for polio and the flu: by using whole samples of dead viruses to stimulate an immune response in recipients without causing them to contract the disease. The National Post has also reported that the vaccine has gone through preliminary toxicology tests without raising safety concerns.

“None of the researchers in the past have used this approach,” lead researcher Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, a virologist at the University of Western Ontario who has been working on the vaccine since 1987, said in an announcement.

These trials are likely to take years. They could end in failure, but hopefully they won’t. Nonetheless, along with the fact that men like Magic Johnson have shown us that HIV/AIDS can, if properly treated, be more of a chronic condition than a fatal disease, it is really fantastic news.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Honest question: If this vaccine works, does the evangelical Right come out against it because it may lead to more gay sex?

  2. David says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: You have to ask? Look at the backlash on immunization against ovarian cancer.

  3. Brett says:

    This would be a godsend, although I’m wary – we’ve had attempts to create an HIV vaccine that didn’t pan out before.

  4. David says:

    @Brett: Agree. This one appears to have gone farther than the others that I am aware of, but not counting my chickens on this. It is nice that they found something that might work that they haven’t found any adverse reactions to yet. I’m cautiously hopeful (not even cautiously optimistic). Let the tests begin and maybe, just maybe, we can make this go the way of small pox, polio, etc.