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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 09:38 GMT
China begins HIV vaccine trials
Several human trials of vaccines are being held globally
China has begun its first human trials of a new HIV vaccine, the state news agency Xinhua news agency reports.

A 20-year-old man became the first volunteer to receive the vaccine on Saturday. He will be followed by seven others, four of whom are women.

A total of 49 volunteers aged between 18 and 50 will take part in the tests to be carried out over three stages, officials were quoted as saying.

China says 840,000 people have HIV but experts fear the figure is higher.

The first stage of the test will last 14 months, Chen Ji, director of the disease control agency in southern China's Guangxi region, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

No details on the test were given, but the second stage would cover "immune nature and safety of the vaccine".

All of those taking part in the tests have received physical check-ups and signed waivers, Xinhua said.

The tests were approved by China's drug regulators last November.

The Chinese government says 80,000 of its 1.3 billion population have developed full-blown Aids.

The UN has warned that the number of people affected by HIV and Aids in China could rise to 10 million by 2010 unless much is done to fight the disease.

More than 43 million people around the world have been infected by the HIV/Aids virus and around 25 million people died.

Human trials of vaccines are being carried out in several countries but none have yet proved to be significantly effective against the disease.

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