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VERIFY: Viral tweet claims new HIV vaccine is making antibodies in trials

A viral tweet claims a vaccine candidate to prevent HIV is effective at making antibodies in trials. That's not true, but the results are promising.

WASHINGTON — COVID-19 vaccinations have been front of mind for Americans throughout the pandemic. The speed and scientific innovation which gave us multiple highly effective COVID-19 vaccines in about a year is incredible. But, for other pandemics we've been through, like HIV-AIDS, vaccines are still just out of reach.

With some trials ongoing, a tweet with hundreds of thousands of likes claims that an HIV vaccine is proving effective at making HIV antibodies. Verify researchers reached out to the organizations doing the work to get the most updated information on a potential HIV vaccine. 

THE QUESTION

Is an HIV vaccine proving effective in making HIV antibodies in early test trials?

THE ANSWER

No, a small Phase 1 trial found that an HIV vaccine candidate took the first steps to make antibodies. HIV antibodies have not been reached.

OUR SOURCES

WHAT WE FOUND

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Scripps Research have partnered to pioneer and study a vaccine to prevent the spread of HIV. In February 2021, the two organizations announced promising early results in the first human clinical trials for an HIV vaccine. 

The study consisted of just 48 adult participants, and a spokesperson for IAVI told us they found that the vaccine "successfully stimulated the production of the rare immune cells needed to generate antibodies against HIV in 97% of the participants."

As explained in this video made by IAVI, the trial did produce the immune response they intended. HIV is a complex, constantly changing virus. Researchers have been searching for a sign that their work is stimulating the right kind of immune response. That is what the IAVI and Scripps study found.

However, that major scientific accomplishment must be referred to accurately. HIV antibody creation is still down the road. Their study was a sign they are moving in the right direction. 

This trial took a huge step toward eventually reaching an immunization for HIV and ending the ongoing epidemics across the globe. But, the IAVI spokesperson said the viral tweet is not accurate. There are more steps to take and more research to do to reach HIV antibody creation. 

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