DermaVir employs a topical, non-invasive method for vaccine delivery to dendritic cells. The vaccine product contains plasmid DNA as the active ingredient, encoding authentically expressed retroviral genes with appropriate safety modifications. The non-viral delivery system packages the DNA within pathogen-like nanoparticles and studies indicate that vaccine antigens are taken up by epidermal Langerhans cells, the precursors of dendritic cells. DermaVir loaded dendritic cells reach the draining lymph node target but not the bloodstream nor indiscriminately other organ systems. Safety data from DermaVir immunized infected macaques indicate improved survival, absence of apparent toxicities other than transient erythema and lack of recombination between the vaccine DNA and the infectious viral DNA integrated in the host genome. DermaVir represents a potential new approach for the treatment of HIV infection to be utilized either in conjunction with antiretroviral therapy or during structured treatment interruption.