Italy says it plans to expand its second round of AIDS vaccine research to parts of Africa, after a successful first round conducted between November 2003 and 2004.
Researchers at Italy's National Health Institute said their vaccine was safe and well-tolerated by all respondents, some of whom were HIV-positive.
Noting that only a dozen of the 30 vaccines being researched globally had made it to Phase II testing, the US-based AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) hailed the Italian research as "very important".
Reuters quoted AVAC executive director, Mitchell Warren, as saying: "Are they going to produce the first AIDS vaccine? We don't know. But finding out what doesn't work right now is almost as important as finding out what works."
Italy is holding talks with the European Union and private investors to accumulate the estimated US $59 million required for funding the second-phase trials.