Australian researchers are one step closer to finding a vaccine for HIV, and hope to be able to offer a preventative jab within the decade.
Experts at The University of Melbourne have found that people with HIV produce antibodies called ADCC, which trigger the immune system to find and attack the virus.
Analysis of blood samples also found that the antibodies force the HIV virus to change, making it weaker, said Professor Stephen Kent, lead author of a report on the new findings.
"[But] because the antibodies don't develop until after they catch HIV, the antibodies can't actually cure the HIV once it's already there," he said.
"The thing about antibodies is, if you can induce them before you acquire infection, it's likely to prevent infection altogether.
"If a vaccine was to make these antibodies it could prevent the virus altogether."
The team from the Microbiology and Immunology department of the university are now working on a HIV vaccine that will induce the ADCC antibodies.
About 30 million people around the world are affected with HIV, including 20,000 Australians, and the number is on the rise, Professor Kent said.