A study on monkeys has suggested that a vaccine could be used against HIV.

The experiment, on rhesus macaques, looked at the effect of the vaccine on the monkey form of HIV, known as simian simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV).

Twenty-four healthy monkeys were given a vaccine engineered to produce antigens against SIV more quickly than the body would usually respond.

The monkeys were then exposed to SIV. Compared to a control group which all acquired the infection, 13 of the 24 vaccinated monkeys showed no trace of SIV, and 12 continued to show no trace of the infection a year later.

Louis Picker, associate director of the Oregon Health and Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI), where the study took place, said the next step was to try it in humans.

Jason Warriner, clinical director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “This is an exciting new approach, but until the vaccine has been trialled in humans, there’s no way of knowing how effective it will be.

“Although this vaccine was found to be partially effective in monkeys, HIV is an incredibly complex virus, with many different strains that we are still learning about. While there’s still no cure or vaccine, prevention is the only way of protecting yourself so you need to make sure you use condoms when having sex.”