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Second phase of HIV vaccine trials starts in China

High risk groups, including gay men, volunteer to be part of HIV vaccine trial in Beijing
A colored microscopic image of the HIV virus

The second phase of a trial into finding a vaccine for HIV started yesterday in Beijing.

Around 150 volunteers, mostly from high risk groups, like men who have sex with men (MSM), will take part in the clinical trial that will last for two years.

One volunteer, Li Yewen, a 28-year-old gay man from Beijing, told China Daily:

‘As one of the vulnerable group to HIV/AIDS, I’d like to take part in the clinical trial and help with the research and development of a successful vaccine that can indeed prevent people from getting HIV.’

UNAIDS estimates that 780,000 people living with HIV in China, of which 46.5% were infected through heterosexual sex and 17.4% through homosexual sex.

The HIV prevalence among MSM is growing though - it was at just 2% in 2007 and was up to 5.7% in 2010 and 6.3% in 2011.

Shao Yiming one of the founders of the China AIDS Vaccine Initiative said at a news conference that phase 1 of the trial was promising.

‘The phase 1 trial conducted among 46 volunteers found that it could induce immune responses to HIV among some recipients,’ Shao said.

‘The phase 2 clinical trial mainly aims to test the vaccine’s safety and is crucial for the introduction of the next phase, which will test its effectiveness.’

China Daily report that China invested $18 million into HIV vaccine research and development in 2010.

'Given that AIDS can’t be cured at the moment, a vaccine might be the best weapon to eliminate the disease that killed 1.7 million people worldwide last year,' said Shao.

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