- 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
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
has been formulated.
- Project director of the National AIDS Control
JVR Prasada Rao, said trials would be conducted only through the
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
manner and the vaccine should target virus strains relevant to India, he
- In addition, a series of steps would be taken to inform
people as well as to instil confidence: A series of meetings with the
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.