As of 2006, there was no vaccine to prevent infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. It is important to develop an effective and safe vaccine, since over 25 million people died from AIDS-related causes between 1981 and 2005. Consequently, scientists around the world are working intensively to develop a DNA vaccine and have tested many of these vaccines. Such vaccines are made artificially, so they do not contain any actual
HIV viruses. As a result, DNA vaccines cannot infect anyone with HIV. So far, the only side effects associated with experimental HIV DNA vaccines have been minor irritation around the injection area, a low fever, and minor body aches that quickly go away. As with other experimental DNA vaccines, a future HIV vaccine should be safe, inexpensive to make, and not need refrigeration, so that it will be easy to store and give to those who need it.
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