25 years of primate research has failed to find vaccines, cures or treatments for AIDS
HIV has been difficult to tackle because the virus fools the body’s immune system. It is true that we do not yet have an effective vaccine. Some leading researchers are now suggesting that more basic research should be done before trialling vaccines in patients – which does remain the ultimate goal of research.
However, animal studies were crucial in identifying the virus, for developing diagnostic tests, and for producing therapies such as antiretrovirals that have prolonged millions of lives. These medicines mean that HIV can be a manageable chronic condition rather than an automatic death sentence, as it was in the 1980s.