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India launches
human trials of second HIV vaccine

India launches
human trials of second HIV vaccine

Health officials announced that India has approved human trials for the country's second preventive HIV vaccine candidate. India, home to more than 5.13 million HIV-positive people, began human trials on its first vaccine in February, and authorities say those are going well.

In February, 34 healthy adult volunteers began trials for the tgAAC09 vaccine, which targets HIV subtype C, widely prevalent in India, South Africa, and China. In September, at least 30 volunteers will participate in a trial for the Modified Vaccinia Ankara, which also targets HIV subtype C.

Officials say the first phase of such trials involves vaccines being tested on HIV-negative volunteers who understand the risks of possible HIV infection and have signed on to the trial. In the second phase of the trial, the vaccine will be given to a small group of high-risk HIV-negative individuals--sex workers, gay men, and injection-drug users--to check the efficacy of the dosage. If the vaccine works in both groups, it will then be tested on a group of up to 1,000 HIV-negative volunteers in the third phase.

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, which coordinates the global search for a vaccine, says India is important because of its advanced biomedical research facilities and strong pharmaceutical industry that manufactures generic anti-HIV drugs that are widely exported. Nonetheless, many Indians cannot afford 1,300 rupees ($29.90 U.S.) a month for an antiretroviral regimen. (Reuters)

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