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HIV Vaccines

Education Packet

HIV Vaccines – This packet is a compilation of recent fact sheets and other resources. You may wish to customize it to meet the needs or interests of particular groups, such as event participants, providers, patients, clients, or the general public. So please feel free to distribute all or part of this packet as either a printout or PDF.

Resources from HIVinfo

What Is a Preventive HIV Vaccine? – This fact sheet describes what preventive HIV vaccines are, how they differ from therapeutic vaccines, why it is important to develop preventive vaccines, research into the development of preventive vaccines, and where to find more information about preventive vaccine development. Also available in Spanish.

What Is a Therapeutic HIV Vaccine? – This fact sheet describes what therapeutic HIV vaccines are, how they differ from preventive vaccines, the potential benefits of therapeutic vaccines, and where to find more information about therapeutic vaccine development. Also available in Spanish.


Resources from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

History of HIV Vaccine Research – This fact sheet lists milestones in HIV vaccine development, beginning in 1984.

HIV Vaccine Development – This briefly discusses two different strategies for HIV vaccine development: an empirical approach and a theoretical approach.  These two approaches are described in greater depth in the two fact sheets listed immediately below.

An Empirical Approach to HIV Vaccine Development – This approach relies on observation and experimentation to move vaccine candidates quickly into human testing in clinical trials. This fact sheet also describes the landmark RV144 vaccine study in Thailand, which was the first large clinical trial to demonstrate efficacy for an experimental HIV vaccine.

A Theoretical Approach to HIV Vaccine Development – In this approach, candidate vaccines are designed based on an understanding of the immune system’s response to HIV infection. This fact sheet describes efforts to design antibody-based HIV vaccines, research to increase understanding of HIV’s viral structure, and approaches for designing cell-based HIV vaccines.

Progress Toward an HIV Vaccine – This infographic/poster describes the challenges of developing an HIV vaccine, recent progress in vaccine development, and ongoing research strategies to develop safe and effective HIV vaccines.

NIH Launches Clinical Trial of Three mRNA HIV Vaccines (March 2022) – This article describes a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating three experimental HIV vaccines based on a messenger RNA (mRNA) platform – a technology used in several widely used COVID-19 vaccines.

Experimental mRNA HIV Vaccine Safe, Shows Promise in Animals (December 2021) – This article describes promising results in mice and non-human primates for an experimental HIV vaccine based on an mRNA platform. The novel vaccine was shown to be safe and prompted desired antibody and cellular immune responses against an HIV-like virus.

HIV Vaccine Candidate Does Not Sufficiently Protect Women Against HIV Infection (August 2021) – This article summarizes the findings of research involving an investigational HIV vaccine tested in the “Imbokodo” clinical trial conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. Study researchers found that, while the vaccine posed no safety concerns, it did not provide sufficient protection against HIV infection.


Resources from the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN)

HIV Vaccine Myths and Facts – This addresses some common myths and misconceptions about HIV vaccines and presents important facts about HIV vaccines in plain language. Also available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Participate Overview – This web page includes information about participating in an HIV vaccine trial. It includes a Volunteer FAQ section that provides answers to frequently asked questions that prospective participants may have about joining an HIV vaccine trial.

HVTN Studies – This links to a search results page with information about HVTN studies that are currently recruiting participants. An associated HVTN Trials page provides information about ongoing protocols, as well as HVTN’s support for ancillary/exploratory studies conducted by other institutions studying HIV/AIDS, immunology, or vaccinology.

Key HIV Vaccine Topics: Why Is an HIV Vaccine Needed? – This describes the current state of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the value of vaccines in reducing or eliminating infectious diseases, and other prevention options that are available.

Types of Vaccines – This describes the different types of preventive vaccines that might be used to prevent HIV infection, including protein vaccines, nucleic acid vaccines, and viral vector vaccines.

How Vaccines Work – This describes the difference between preventive and therapeutic vaccines, the components of vaccines, the ways they might prevent or control HIV infections, and how different HIV vaccine components might be used in combination to better control HIV. 

How HVTN Study Protocols are Developed – This describes the different stages of vaccine development from initial computer modeling and laboratory studies, to preclinical testing, to the three phases of clinical studies.

Using Antibodies for HIV Prevention – This provides information about the ways that antibodies might be used to prevent HIV infection, either through approaches involving passive immunity or the use of broadly neutralizing antibodies.  

Ethics of HVTN Trials – This lists and links to the international codes of ethics that have been adopted since World War II to ensure the protection of human participants in biomedical research. It also describes three main principles that are the basis of these codes of ethics: autonomy – respect for people’s rights to freely choose to participate in biomedical research with the information needed to make informed decisions; beneficence – evidence that the benefits of the biomedical research should outweigh the risks; and justice – an equitable selection of participants in biomedical research.

Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (BRR) for HIV Research – This outlines the rights and responsibilities of participants in HIV-related research. The BRR was originally written in English in 2003 and has since been revised multiple times. The latest version, completed in 2020, has also been translated into about 15 languages, including French, Portuguese, Spanish, and several African languages.

Other HIV Vaccine Resources

HIV Vaccines: The Basics (AVAC) – This fact sheet provides basic information on preventive HIV vaccines, including what preventive vaccines are, past discoveries and current developments in vaccine research, and the role of antibody research in efforts to develop preventive HIV vaccines.

HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials Update (AVAC) – This is a table of ongoing HIV vaccine trials.

The Years Ahead in Biomedical HIV Prevention Research (AVAC) – This is a  timeline of expected trial results and potential regulatory submission for the range of HIV prevention products being tested, including vaccine candidates.

HVTN 702 Updates and Next Steps – (AVAC) Researchers involved in the HVTN 702 HIV vaccine efficacy trial in South Africa announced in early 2020 that vaccinations would be stopped early because the vaccine candidate did not prevent HIV.

HIV Vaccines (IAVI) – This web page summarizes research done by IAVI and collaborating scientists to develop and test HIV vaccine candidates, including those using B-cell immunogens, T-cell immunogens, and other innovative technologies.

Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies (bnAbs) for HIV Prevention (IAVI) – This page describes how research into bnAbs can help guide the design of vaccines that could elicit bnAbs for protection, and how bnAbs might be administered directly to prevent infection.

HIV Prevention Research & Development Investments (UNAIDS, AVAC, and IAVI) – This website from the HIV Prevention Research & Development Working Group shows investment trends in HIV prevention, including HIV vaccines.


The contents listed on this page are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, the New England AIDS Education and Training Center.