A study led by a University of Manitoba researcher has brought science one step closer to using the chickenpox virus to develop a vaccine against HIV.


“Varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, may hold the key to inducing the human body to produce a safe, long-lasting, protective immune response to HIV,” said Dr. Kelly MacDonald, professor of internal medicine, immunology and medical microbiology at the Max Rady College of Medicine in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and professor of immunology at the University of Toronto.

“Our study investigated an important safety concern that posed a barrier to this vaccine strategy. Now, with our findings, the stage is set to move forward with testing a chickenpox-based HIV vaccine.”

The study is the first in the world to demonstrate that chickenpox vaccine, when given to people who are already immune to it, does not trigger an unwanted “HIV-welcoming” immune state in the genital mucosa (lining) or in the bloodstream.

Read more at the University of Manitoba

Live attenuated varicella-zoster virus vaccine does not induce HIV target cell activation