An infant macaque model was developed to test pediatric vaccine candidates aimed at reducing HIV transmission through breast-feeding. Infant macaques were given multiple immunizations during the first 3 weeks of life with recombinant poxvirus vaccines expressing simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) structural proteins Gag, Pol, and Env (ALVAC-SIV or modified vaccinia virus Ankara [MVA]-SIV). After repeated daily oral inoculations with virulent SIVmac251 at 4 weeks of age, significantly fewer ALVAC-SIV-immunized infants were infected compared with unimmunized infants. Monkeys not infected after oral challenge in infancy were rechallenged at 16 months of age or older by repeated weekly oral SIV exposure; unimmunized animals were infected after fewer SIV exposures than were animals vaccinated with ALVAC-SIV or MVA-SIV. When infected, ALVAC-SIV- and MVA-SIV-vaccinated animals also had reduced viremia compared with unimmunized animals. The results of these investigations suggest that immunization of human infants with poxvirus-based HIV vaccine candidates may offer protection against early and late HIV infection through breastfeeding.
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