HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has begun Phase 1 of a trial to test three possible HIV vaccines.

The vaccines will contain components of the COVID-19 vaccines, which leads local health officials to feel hopeful as HIV continues to be a rising concern in West Virginia.

According to the CDC, West Virginia saw the start of the HIV outbreak in 2019 and those numbers have been at an uptick since then – most of the cases being in correlation to the opioid epidemic.

“West Virginia has a serious problem with HIV transmission, especially due to injection drug use. This transmission is especially difficult to control when some of the best public health measure for that control, syringe service programs, are politically opposed,”

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, Cabell-Huntington Health Department CEO and Health Officer

Kilkenny continues by explaining that this vaccination would provide a new tool to help end the spread of the virus.

Officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) say, although hopeful, it’s too early to judge how beneficial this new vaccine will be.

“Vaccines have proven extremely effective in stopping disease transmission. It has long been the ultimate goal of HIV research to produce a vaccine, and although it is too early in the research process to know whether this vaccine strategy will be successful, we continue to be hopeful for additional research to advance us to the ultimate goal,” explains Dr. Amjad.

The clinical trial for the vaccines is expected to be completed by July 2023.