Kenya: Hopes dashed as HIV vaccine trial is cancelled

Photo Credit/ Daily Nation/ Ms Inviolata MMbavi, speaks at a Nairobi hotel during the 17th edition of the Kenya Science Media café on February 7, 2020.

When it was announced that the trials of HVTN 702, an experimental vaccine that could protect people against HIV, the virus that causes Aids, had been cancelled for non-efficacy, Ms Inviolata Mmbavi was disappointed. On Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases stopped administration of vaccinations in its HVTN 702 clinical trial of an investigational HIV vaccine among 5,400 South African adult men and women.


However, Ms Mmbavi who is just about to celebrate her 50th birthday, said the news came at a time when millions of survivors like her were eagerly waiting for the new vaccine. “It has not been a walk in the park… life has never been the same since I tested HIV positive. I contracted HIV in my early 20s. I am just about to celebrate my 50th birth day and I was looking forward to the roll out of the vaccine,” she said.

She said HIV drugs that were used earlier had many side effects. “I almost gave up. I was waiting to die anytime because of the suffering I was undergoing and that is why I support the research for a cure and effective vaccine,” said Ms Mmbavi.


She added: “I wouldn’t want anyone to undergo what I went through in the early days when HIV was detected in Kenya. For me, it was hell on earth … I wouldn’t want even my worst enemy to go through such a terrifying experience. Ms Mmbavi said as an advocate for a world free of HIV, she will continue to push for change and abstinence to fight the deadly disease.

“As long as I am alive I am going to support that vaccine initiative in spite of the drawback in the research,” said Ms Mmbavi who is the executive director of International Community of Women Living with HIV/Aids- Kenya chapter. She said it was sad that young people born with HIV/Aids are reluctant to take drugs.

“This has affected their academic performance while others who want to enter into relationships are in dilemma,” she said. She is, however, optimistic that a vaccine will soon be found. She was speaking during the 17th edition of the Kenya Science Media café in Nairobi on Friday.

The event was organised by the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture

Source: Daily Nation