Can the smallpox vaccine reduce the spread of HIV?

As reported by, scientists believe the smallpox vaccine may be useful in reducing the spread of HIV.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, smallpox immunization was slowly stopped as the virus was eradicated. Since then,  HIV infections have risen exponentially. This correlation lead researches to experiment with the smallpox vaccine in relation to HIV.

To test this relationship, researchers analyzed how white blood cells from people recently immunized against smallpox reacted when exposed to HIV. The blood from immunized people showed significantly lower replication rates of HIV in their blood cells compared with blood from those who hadn't been vaccinated. In fact, the vaccine appeared to cut HIV replication rates five-fold.

Researchers believe the smallpox vaccine impairs CCR5 receptors on the surface of white blood cells, which are exploited by both the smallpox and HIV viruses.

Although these findings are promising, it’s still too early to recommend the smallpox vaccination for the general population as a way to reduce HIV infection rates.

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