A central obstacle to the design of a global HIV vaccine is viral diversity. Antigenic differences in envelope proteins result in distinct HIV serotypes, operationally defined such that antibodies raised against envelope from one serotype will not bind envelope molecules from a different serotype. The existence of serotypes has presented a similar challenge to vaccine development against other pathogens. In such cases, antigenic diversity has been addressed by vaccine design: for example, the poliovirus vaccine includes 3 serotypes of poliovirus, and Pneumovax® presents a cocktail of 23 pneumococcal variants to the immune system. It is likely that a successful vaccine for HIV must also comprise a cocktail of antigens. Here, data relevant to the development of cocktail vaccines, designed to harness diverse, envelope-specific B-cell and T-cell responses, are reviewed.
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