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Moderna, one of the major manufacturers behind COVID-19 vaccines in use worldwide, is gearing up to start clinical trials for its HIV vaccine.

As BioSpace reports, the company could announce and launch human trials for the mRNA-based vaccine as soon as this week. Moderna is expected to recruit 56 HIV-positive individuals between the ages of 18 to 50 for its phase one trials, which could ultimately determine the safety, effectiveness, and overall validity of the vaccine, which utilizes similar technology to the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Two versions of the HIV vaccine will be utilized in the tests, with four groups receiving different variations of the vaccine. Further research and trials will need to be launched to fully determine how well the vaccines work in protecting people against HIV, with phase one trials expected to last until March 2023.

"The mRNA platform makes it easy to develop vaccines against variants because it just requires an update to the coding sequences in the mRNA that code for the variant," explained HIV Medicine Association head Rajesh Gandhi. "Based on its success in protecting against COVID-19, I am hopeful that mRNA technology will revolutionize our ability to develop vaccines against other pathogens, like HIV and influenza."

Speaking with the Independent, Imperial College London immunologist Robin Shattock said that an effective vaccine is “a very long way away” right now, but regardless it’s seen as “a potential first step forward on a very long journey.” An estimated 38 million people across the world are living with HIV, which has taken the lives of over 36 million people since it first surfaced in the ’80s.