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China begins human tests of HIV vaccine

China begins human tests of HIV vaccine

China has begun testing a new HIV vaccine on a group of volunteers after they were given physical exams and signed waivers, the government said. A total of 49 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 50 will be part of the three-stage tests, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Chen Jie, director of the disease control agency in southern China's Guangxi region. The first stage of testing will last 14 months. Chinese drug regulators approved the tests last November. At that time state media said the vaccine, already tested on monkeys, was developed by Chinese scientists who have studied the genetics of HIV since 1996. The agency didn't offer further details of the tests or the vaccine. China says it has 840,000 people infected with HIV and 80,000 with AIDS. Health experts say the true figures are much higher and warn that China could have 10 million HIV-positive people by 2010 unless it takes action. After years of denying that the disease was a problem, China has become more open about its AIDS epidemic. But AIDS activists are still regularly detained and harassed. (AP)

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