Overcoming the barriers that impede HIV vaccine development and testing

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Guest Editor
Dr. Beatrice Ondondo
The Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK.
Email: Beatrice.Ondondo@ndm.ox.ac.uk

Manuscript Topics
HIV/AIDS remains one of the major global health issues, especially in low to middle income countries (LMIC), where limited resources preclude free access to sustainable interventions, including antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and other preventive strategies. An effective vaccine will have the profound effect of preventing new HIV infections, as well as protecting the infected individuals from rapid progression to AIDS and death. However, despite many years of active research an effective vaccine against HIV/AIDS is yet to be found. A number of obstacles relating to the biological and physical characteristics of the virus, socio-cultural perceptions of affected communities, inadequate research infrastructure and funding in LMIC and a general lack of incentive for industry and biotech companies (owing to low financial returns and lengthy validation processes) have collectively hindered HIV vaccine development in the past. However, there have been recent innovative developments pointing to the possibility that an efficacious vaccine against HIV/AIDS is not completely out of reach. This special issue of AIMS Public Health will discuss the recent developments in research and technologies relating to HIV vaccine development and testing with the aim of highlighting the fundamental strategies that can be harnessed to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine for HIV/AIDS. Original research articles, reviews and opinion articles covering various aspects of HIV vaccine research, development and testing are invited for consideration. Areas of interest include but are not limited to the following:
1.) New approaches for antibody and T cell vaccines (improved immunogen design for enhanced efficacy)
2.) Enhancement of immunogenicity of prophylactic and therapeutic HIV vaccines
3.) Improved HIV vaccine delivery methods (vectors, adjuvants and routes of immunization)
4.) Lack of appropriate and reliable animal models for testing vaccine efficacy
5.) Lack of accurate correlates of protective efficacy
6.) Overcoming the challenges of volunteer recruitment into vaccine trials and cohort studies (stigma associated with MSM and FSW groups; misconceptions that HIV vaccines can lead to sero-conversion; general reluctance to participate in trials of unlicensed vaccines; difficulties in recruiting infants, children and adolescents; etc.)
7.) Challenges of invasive mucosal sampling (general acceptability issues; sample volume limitations; contamination issues; etc.)
8.) Insufficient resources for research infrastructure in LMIC (limited financing for research and development facilities and equipment)
9.) Social-economic factors and cultural (as well as religious) practices that hinder the successful implementation of existing HIV treatment and prevention strategies
10.) Economic barriers and lack of incentives for pharmaceutical and biotech companies in terms of full recovery of vaccine development and manufacturing costs.

Paper submission
All manuscripts will be peer-reviewed before their acceptance for publication.
The deadline for manuscript submission is 28 June 2015.

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Marc H V Van Regenmortel
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