A vaccine against HIV will be trialled in South Africa later this year after it met the criteria needed to prove it could help fight the epidemic in Africa.
2.1 million infections were reported in the continent in 2015, two thirds of which occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
A small trial, known as HVTN100, initially took place in South Africa in 2015 to test the safety and strength of immunity the vaccine could provide, ahead of any large-scale testing in affected populations.
Two-hundred and fifty-two healthy volunteers were enrolled to receive either the vaccine, known as ALVAC-HIV/gp120, or a placebo to compare the extent of immune response generated. The results were presented Tuesday at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.
“This was precautionary to see if the vaccine looks promising,” CNN reports Linda Gail Bekker, deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, and president-elect of the International AIDS Society, who is leading the vaccine trials, as saying.
The vaccine stems from a landmark trial in Thailand in 2009 that was the first to show any protection against HIV, with 31% protection against the virus. This was enough to get experts in the field excited after years with no success.
The vaccine was improved for use in the higher-risk populations of sub-Saharan Africa, where a different subtype of the virus also exists.
5,400 people across four sites in South Africa will receive the vaccine in November and run for three years.