A research study in Uganda, called the PrEPVacc HIV prevention trial, began in Masaka in December 2020. This study involved experimental vaccine regimens and a new form of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Dr. Eugene Ruzagira, the trial director, mentioned that the complete results would be available after June 2024, once all trial data is collected.
Vaccinations for participants in the PrEPVacc trial have been halted. An analysis by the Independent Data Monitoring Committee indicated a low probability of demonstrating that the tested vaccines reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. The trial is led by African researchers from Entebbe, Uganda, with support from 15 partner organizations across Africa, Europe, and the US, sponsored by Imperial College London.
Despite the setback, Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) director and PrEPVacc’s Chief Investigator, emphasized that the goal of developing an HIV vaccine for Africa remains crucial. He noted the urgency to explore new vaccine approaches and technology.
The failure of the vaccine follows a similar event about 30 years ago in Uganda, where another experimental HIV prevention vaccine trial did not succeed. Uganda, like other nations, aims to end AIDS by 2030, with the prevention of new infections being a key component. Health experts assert that an HIV vaccine is essential in this endeavor.
The PrEPVacc leaders highlighted that follow-up for participants will continue for safety data collection, HIV testing, and referral for ongoing care. The independent committee recommended the continuation of the oral PrEP component of the study until completion.