There are almost 1 million HIV-positive people in Russia and only a quarter of them receives treatment. The treatment for all requires 120 billion rubles annually. It is difficult to find such funds, hence there is a need for vaccines, immunotherapeutic medicines that will cure this disease.
The scientists in the Biomedical Center of St. Petersburg managed to find the exact geographical point of virus invasion to the USSR in the 1980s. “It was a comprehensive molecular investigation,” said one researcher. “The virus found its way through Odessa.” He added that another virus subtype arrived to USSR through Nikolaev, also a Ukrainian city. But it did not become particularly widespread. Currently, the people in Russia are infected with the virus subtype A, and its variability is low. “It is impossible to make a vaccine against the HIV virus for entire globe, since the virus is very heterogeneous around the world. In Russia, the virus is homogeneous, so there is a chance to make the vaccine,” said Andrei Kozlov, the Director of the Biomedical Center in St. Petersburg.
The Biomedical Center works on developing the vaccine against HIV since the 2000s. In Russia, this is the only vaccine that passed the Phase II of clinical trials. Phase I showed the safety and immunogenicity (ability to induce an immune response) of the vaccine. “The viral reservoirs have been destroyed in some patients. We obtained the results, and if we further develop them, we will be able to cure viral infection,” said one biologist commenting the results of Phase II. He emphasized that they were developing the therapeutic vaccine against HIV specifically intended for the treatment, but not for the prevention of the infection, “A preventive vaccine would require much more money.”