Cuba to begin HIV vaccine trials in humans this year

According to the director of clinical research at Cuba's genetic engineering and biotechnology center, Cuba will begin clinical human trials of an HIV vaccine this year.

Verena Muizo made the announcement at the International Biotech Conference Havana 2012. The vaccine, known as TERAVAC-VIH-1, would begin as a small study with only a few patients, Sky News reports.

"In terms of the vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus, it should start soon," Muizo said, according to Sky News. "We hope in the second quarter of this year, or in the third. It is a clinical study of individuals infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, but it is a phase one study, for safety, and to start to try this possible vaccine."

While the researchers working on the HIV vaccine are hopeful, they were quick to point out that the trials are in the early phases and it could take many years to know whether the vaccine is effective or not.

"The vaccine is starting its clinical evaluation and we hope it works," Muizo said, according to Sky News. "But really, we need a lot more time to really be able to show its effectiveness as a product."

In December, a group of Canadian scientists gained approval to begin testing an experimental HIV vaccine on humans. The vaccine received a green light for testing from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.