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This article is the author’s final published version in Vaccines, Volume 9, Issue 6, June 2021, Article number 605.

The published version is available at Copyright © Hokello et al.


In 2020, the global prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection was estimated to be 38 million, and a total of 690,000 people died from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)–related complications. Notably, around 12.6 million people living with HIIV/AIDS did not have access to life-saving treatment. The advent of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the mid-1990s remarkably enhanced the life expectancy of people living with HIV/AIDS as a result of improved immune functions. However, HAART has several drawbacks, especially when it is not used properly, including a high risk for the development of drug resistance, as well as undesirable side effects such as lipodystrophy and endocrine dysfunctions, which result in HAART intolerability. HAART is also not curative. Furthermore, new HIV infections continue to occur globally at a high rate, with an estimated 1.7 million new infections occurring in 2018 alone. Therefore, there is still an urgent need for an affordable, effective, and readily available preventive vaccine against HIV/AIDS. Despite this urgent need, however, progress toward an effective HIV vaccine has been modest over the last four decades. Reasons for this slow progress are mainly associated with the unique aspects of HIV itself and its ability to rapidly mutate, targeting immune cells and escape host immune responses. Several approaches to an HIV vaccine have been undertaken. However, this review will mainly discuss progress made, including the pre-clinical and clinical trials involving vector-based HIV DNA vaccines and the use of integrating lentiviral vectors in HIV vaccine development. We concluded by recommending particularly the use of integrase-defective lentiviral vectors, owing to their safety profiles, as one of the promising vectors in HIV DNA vaccine strategies both for prophylactic and therapeutic HIV vaccines.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.