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Researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TBRI) have developed a new method for vaccinating the body against HIV, which can be detected with a blood test. According to Medical News Today, nearly 90 percent of HIV contractions occur through the outer layer of the cells known as the mucosal layers during sexual intercourse. The vaccine targets this area and prevents the virus from spreading.
A major shortcoming of previous vaccines is that their ability to provide immunity fades after a short period of time, but TBRI's inoculation would only need to be issued once and would last a lifetime.
"The development of an effective AIDS vaccine that restricts viral replication at the mucosal level of entry may be our best hope for controlling the HIV pandemic," said Marie-Claire Gauduin, Ph.D., of Texas Biomedical's Department of Virology and Immunology, who is the co-inventor of the vaccine. "Only life-long stimulation of the immune system by the vaccine will be sufficient to achieve long-term protection," she added.
Medical News Today also noted that the vaccine can be tweaked to defend against other viruses. Currently, TBRI is applying for a patent for the vaccine.
HIV statistics and risk factors
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., nearly 50,000 people contract HIV annually, and it was estimated that by the end of 2009, nearly 1,148,200 people who were 13 or older were living with the virus, 207,600 of whom had not been diagnosed.
The Mayo Clinic notes that some risk factors for contracting HIV include having unprotected sex, having open sores on the genitals, intravenous drug use and being an uncircumcised male.
HIV can also make patients more vulnerable to certain diseases such as tuberculosis, salmonella, cryptococcal meningitis, cryptosporidiosis and toxoplasmosis.
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