US researchers have revealed that vaccines containing a herpes virus could be used to fight HIV.

After conducting successful trials on macaques, the scientists reported that vaccines that contain cytomegalovirus, which belongs to the herpes family, might “significantly contribute” to an efficacious HIV/AIDS vaccine.

Thirteen out of 24 rhesus macaques given the rhesus cytomegalovirus vectors were protected against simian immunodeficiency virus, the monkey equivalent to HIV, the scientists noted in the journal Nature.

In 12 of the monkeys, the vaccine was still effective 12 months after it was administered. The scientists also found that the injected vaccine is carried by a persistent virus that remains in the body for life.

HIV and SIV effectively evade host immunity and, once established, infections with these viruses are rarely controlled by immunological mechanisms.

However, the experimental vaccines worked by stimulating the production of a type of blood cell called effector memory T-cells, which remains vigilant in the body long after an infection has taken hold.