AIDS Vaccine To Be
Tested In India

By Kalpana Jain
Times Of India

NEW DELHI - A potential AIDS vaccine, known as a modified Vaccinia Ankara, MVA, has been identified for trials in India. The vaccine is expected to counter the most prevalent HIV subtype C strain.
It is being brought into the country at an intermediate process of development and being refined for the Indian HIV strain at the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Pune.
The process of vaccine development has been launched through a memorandum of understanding signed by the Union health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research with the New York- based International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
Conducting AIDS vaccine trials is a sensitive issue as it risks using vulnerable groups for generating data on efficacy.
It also poses risks if placebos are used or the vaccine does not prove to be effective enough.
The government says the process of conducting trials will be transparent and all steps will be taken to ensure that consent is voluntary and informed.
To guide this process, an advisory board representing various sections of society, including the positive peoplesí networks, has been formulated.
Project director of the National AIDS Control Organisation, JVR Prasada Rao, said trials would be conducted only through the involvement of the government and other concerned groups.
The expert committee would be reviewing the trials at each stage. It would also be ensured that concerned audiences are well informed and ethical clearances are in place. It has to be run in a transparent manner and the vaccine should target virus strains relevant to India, he added.
In addition, a series of steps would be taken to inform people as well as to instil confidence: A series of meetings with the specific national and regional stakeholders in both public and private sectors are being organised to orient them to the science and access issues related to HIV/AIDS vaccines, solicit their support to expedite development and trials, and assure support for securing universal access to the vaccine as soon as it is available.

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