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Johnson & Johnson and Partners Are Bringing the World One Step Closer to an HIV Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson is a proud partner of Global Citizen.

Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began more than 30 years ago, over 70 million people have contracted HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

In the past few decades, the global health community has made great strides in HIV/AIDS prevention by increasing awareness and understanding of the virus and how it is spread. And though there is still no cure, various life-saving treatments have been developed.

But what if people could be protected against HIV the same way they are protected against other communicable diseases like polio — with a vaccine.

That’s the reality Johnson & Johnson and its partners are working toward.

In collaboration with the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health and others, Johnson & Johnson has begun the first efficacy trial of an investigational mosaic HIV-1 preventive vaccine, a monumental step on the path to creating a vaccine accessible to all.

“Developing a vaccine against HIV is a top priority and our best hope for a world without AIDS. Finding an effective HIV vaccine to protect people at risk has been a major scientific challenge, but today there is new optimism that we can get there,” Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Scientific Officer, Paul Stoffels, M.D. said. 

Friday is #WorldAIDSDay, a day when people join together in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and Johnson & Johnson has partnered with the world’s leading HIV researchers and health advocates to work on this vaccine and #makeHIVhistory.

The trial, called “Imbokodo” — meaning “rock” in Zulu, a language from South Africa where HIV is one of the top five causes of death — will study the effectiveness of the vaccine produced by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a part of Johnson & Johnson. “Imbokodo” aims to evaluate the safety of the vaccine regimen and the vaccine’s effectiveness at reducing the rate of HIV infection among 2,600 women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Much like the flu, there are many strains and subtypes of the virus that causes HIV/AIDS, and different strains are common in different parts of the world, which has posed challenges to developing a vaccine. But, together with partners, Johnson & Johnson is making steady progress.

The mosaic vaccine the “Imbokodo” study is focusing on was developed based on a variety of HIV subtypes.

“The ultimate goal is to deliver a ‘global vaccine’ that could be deployed in any geographic region to help protect vulnerable populations at risk of infection,” Johan Van Hoof, M.D., Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. and Therapeutic Area Head, R&D, Infectious Diseases & Vaccines said.

If the vaccine proves safe and successful, it could save millions of lives.