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HIV: The Search For A Vaccine
In 1985, over 10,000 cases of AIDS were reported worldwide (White and Fenner 1986). Just over a decade later, in 1998, the Global AIDS Policy Coalition estimated that 30.6 million people were infected with HIV worldwide. It has also been projected that by the year 2000, between 40 and 70 million adults will be infected with HIV (New Generation Vaccines 1997). Over 90% of all HIV-1 infected individuals live in developing nations: 50% in Southeast Asia and 40% in sub-Saharan Africa. However, even with all of these alarming statistics and projections, there is hope for the future of humanity. This hope is a potential anti-AIDS vaccine. An anti-AIDS vaccine is the best bet. Among other factors, the large costs associated with therapeutic drugs do not allow many AIDS patients receive them. This is especially true in the developing nations, constituting over 90% of all HIV infections worldwide (Bloom 1995).
Before discussing the development of a potential vaccine, it is imperative to briefly discuss characteristics of HIV itself and also the immune system that these vaccines would target.
HIV, a retrovirus from the Lentivirus subfamily, contains ssRNA nucleic acid. Some of its other characteristics include: an icosahedron capsid, various enzymes (including reverse transcriptase), and envelope with the glycoproteins gp 120, gp 41, and gp160. The genes of HIV-1 can be placed into 3 general categories: structural, regulatory, and accesso...