On April 11, I wrote about a new drug that may offer us hope against malaria, now there are grounds for some optimism in the global battle with AIDS. Researchers have discovered two powerful new antibodies against the virus.
They are found in only a minority of those infected and are the first of their type to be identified in more than a decade. It is hoped that the discovery may speed up the search for an effective vaccine, though Keith Alcorn, of the HIV information service NAM, warned that that prospect was still a long way off.
He said this was an extremely complex project and that “we certainly shouldn't expect these findings to lead to a vaccine in a few years.”
Across the world last year, the World Health Organisation said that there were 33 million people living with the AIDS virus, and that 2 million had died from the disease during 2007. About 1.6 million of those deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa - the region that is worst affected with two thirds of the world’s cases. Countries such as Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa and Zimbabwe all have infection rates of over 15 per cent. (see my blog of Feb 18th)