28/11/2016 12:46 GMT

A New HIV Vaccine Could Be The 'Final Nail In The Coffin' For The Disease

'It would significantly decrease the burden of HIV.'

A new vaccine being tested in South Africa could be the “nail in the coffin” of HIV as it helps to protect people against contracting the disease.

The disease, which attacks the autoimmune system, affects an estimated 103,700 people in the UK alone, according to the NHS.

But a new vaccine, HVTN 702, could significantly decrease the number of people contracting HIV around the world, as it is able to help prevent infection.

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Anthony Fauci, director of the US government’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease: “If deployed alongside our current armory of proven HIV prevention tools, a safe and effective vaccine could be the final nail in the coffin for HIV.” 

Scientists in Johannesburg are basing the current trial on research from a similar 2009 study done in Thailand that showed HVTN 702 was 31.2% effective at preventing HIV infection over 3.5 years.

The team aim to enroll 5400 sexually active men and women, aged 18-35, and give them five injections (either vaccine or placebo) in the largest ever HIV clinical trial to take place in the country.

Results are expected to be published in 2020, and Fauci says that even moderate success would be something to celebrate.

“Even a moderately effective vaccine would significantly decrease the burden of HIV disease over time in countries and populations with high rates of HIV infection, such as South Africa.”