HIV got under way in Uganda this week, raising hopes of an end to the epidemic that affects millions of people across the continent.
The African-led PrEPVacc study will test two experimental combination vaccines to see if they can provide any protection against HIV in people most at risk of infection.
At the same time, a new form of daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will be offered to participants, which scientists say will give the vaccines the best possible chance of working.
The two vaccines have been tested for safety in previous clinical trials in Africa, Europe and the US.
More than 1,600 people between the ages of 18 and 40 are expected to participate in clinical trials over the next three years in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.
The study is being funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, supported by the EU.
“PrEPVacc provides two great opportunities: first, for Africans to be able to participate and lead in the first HIV prevention trial to test two ways to prevent HIV, a scourge that has ravaged the continent,” said Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the PrEPVacc chief investigator.
“Second, an opportunity to grow the capacity of African sites to do future trials themselves and to foster our own future leaders,” he said.