THE world’s first HIV vaccine efficacy study to launch in seven years began at South African research sites on Wednesday‚ ahead of World Aids Day.

The study‚ called HVTN 702‚ will determine whether an experimental vaccine regimen safely prevents HIV infection among South African adults.

About 5,400 men and women who are all HIV-negative have been enrolled in the programme.

With more than 1,000 people in SA becoming infected with HIV each day‚ a successful vaccine is seen as key to ending the epidemic.

Prof Gita Ramjee‚ director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the Medical Research Council‚ said the launch was momentous for SA.

Two participants were expected to receive the vaccine at the Vernham research site outside Durban on Wednesday morning.

According to Ramjee‚ if the HVTN 702 is shown to be effective against new infections‚ this South African trial could lead to the licensing of the world’s first HIV vaccine.

TMG Digital/The Times

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