Fact check: Trump claims there's an AIDS vaccine. There isn't.


Trump said he thinks the same scientific expertise that produced a vaccine for AIDS can deliver one soon for COVID-19. But there's a problem with that logic.

Seizing on a medical milestone that doesn't exist, Donald Trump said Tuesday he thinks the same scientific expertise that produced a vaccine for AIDS can deliver one soon for COVID-19, too. There is no vaccine for AIDS.

A look at his statement:

TRUMP, on scientists: "These are the people – the best, the smartest, the most brilliant anywhere, and they've come up with the AIDS vaccine. They've come up with ... various things." — Tuesday at the White House.

THE FACTS: No one has come up with a vaccine for AIDS, nor is there a cure. Nearly 38,000 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in the U.S. and about 1.7 million globally in 2018, according to the latest totals.

However, powerful medicines have turned HIV into a manageable chronic condition for many patients, prompting major global efforts to get those drugs to more of the people who need them.

In addition, taking certain anti-HIV drugs every day also can work as prevention, dramatically reducing the chances that someone who is still healthy becomes infected through sex or injection drug use. A small fraction of the Americans who might benefit use that so-called "pre-exposure prophylaxis."

Yet there is "no vaccine available that will prevent HIV infection or treat those who have it," says the U.S. Health & Human Services Department in outlining efforts to develop one.

Trump may have been trying to correct himself when he followed up with the comment that science has "various things" for AIDS.

As for a vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic, Trump appears confident one will be ready by the end of the year, but public health authorities warn there's no guarantee that any of the candidates currently being tested will pan out. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health says a vaccine by year's end is conceivable only if everything goes right in final testing this summer.