Therapeutic immunisation: a vaccine by any other name

Jeff Gustavson
ACRIA Update, Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 2001/2002

As the smoke of hope dissipates for eradication of HIV from the human body and the limitations of antiretroviral medications become all too apparent, efforts are being renewed to examine a role for immune-based interventions to help control HIV infection and potentially reduce ongoing exposure to antiretroviral medications.

One way of intervening is to take vaccines that were originally designed to prevent infection and give them to people who are already infected with HIV. Strictly speaking, this is called a therapeutic immunisation.

Although other methods of stimulating the immune system are also being considered, therapeutic immunisation is likely to be less expensive and more easily tolerated than other immune boosting therapies. Despite healthy scepticism of how useful they’ll be, many researchers as well as HIV positive persons are enthusiastic about their promise.

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