(Last updated 2/20/2017; last reviewed 2/20/2017)
A preventive HIV vaccine is given to people who are not infected with HIV, with the goal of preventing HIV infection in the future. The vaccine would teach the person’s immune system to recognize and effectively fight HIV in case the person is ever exposed to HIV.
There are currently no preventive HIV vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but research is under way. You must be enrolled in a clinical trial to receive a preventive HIV vaccine.
While a preventive HIV vaccine is given to people who are not infected with HIV, a therapeutic HIV vaccine is given to people who are already infected with HIV. The goal of a therapeutic HIV vaccine is to strengthen a person’s immune response to the HIV that is already in the person’s body. Researchers are exploring therapeutic HIV vaccines:
To learn more, read the AIDSinfo What is a Therapeutic HIV Vaccine? fact sheet.
No, you cannot get HIV from a preventive HIV vaccine. The preventive HIV vaccines being studied in clinical trials do not contain HIV. Of the approximately 30,000 people who have participated in HIV vaccine studies around the world in the last 25 years, no one has been infected with HIV by any of the vaccines tested.
Treatment options for HIV infection have improved a lot over the last 30 years. But HIV medicines can have side effects, can be expensive, and can be hard to access in some countries. Also, some people may develop drug resistance to certain HIV medicines and then must change medicines.
Current prevention tools for HIV, such as using condoms correctly and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), work well. But researchers believe a preventive HIV vaccine will be the most effective way to completely end new HIV infections.
Some of the areas of interest being studied in clinical trials include:
A list of clinical trials on preventive HIV vaccines is available from the AIDSinfo database of ClinicalTrials.gov study summaries. Click on the title of any trial in the list to see more information about the study.
If you are interested in participating in a vaccine study, you can also contact the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Vaccine Research Center by calling 866-833-LIFE (5433) or by emailing email@example.com.
Visit the websites below to learn more about preventive HIV vaccine research. This fact sheet is based on information from these sources: