HIV infection can be effectively treated by lifelong administration of combination antiretroviral therapy, but an effective vaccine will likely be required to end the HIV epidemic. Although the majority of current vaccine strategies focus on the induction of neutralizing antibodies, there is substantial evidence that cellular immunity mediated by CD8+ T cells can sustain long-term disease-free and transmission-free HIV control and may be harnessed to induce both therapeutic and preventive antiviral effects. In this Review, we discuss the increasing evidence derived from individuals who spontaneously control infection without antiretroviral therapy as well as preclinical immunization studies that provide a clear rationale for renewed efforts to develop a CD8+ T cell-based HIV vaccine in conjunction with B cell vaccine efforts. Further, we outline the remaining challenges in translating these findings into viable HIV prevention, treatment and cure strategies.
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We are grateful to the participants of all cited studies. We apologize to the many authors whose work was not cited in this review owing to space limitations. This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant UM1AI100663 and R37AI067073.
G.D.G. and B.D.W. have filed a provisional patent application (62/817,094) related to HIV vaccine design. D.R.C. declares no competing interests.
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Collins, D.R., Gaiha, G.D. & Walker, B.D. CD8+ T cells in HIV control, cure and prevention. Nat Rev Immunol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-020-0274-9