The preventive vaccine under development is a modified smallpox virus in which genetic material cloned from the HIV-c subtype is introduced. The virus, in this new form, will stimulate the production of HIV-killer cells in the body. The high-profile initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, the US and several other European nations. An agreement with the Indian government has been reached for the development of an India-specific AIDS vaccine.
Among the most common concerns being expressed by health activists is the fallout if the vaccine fails to live up to expectations. To test its efficacy, volunteers would necessarily have to be sexually active, promiscuous and be indulging in "risky" behaviour—which they might let themselves in for, feeling secure against the virus. Argues Amit Sengupta of the Delhi Science Forum and a member of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan, a network of over 1,000 health NGOs: "Should somebody contract the disease despite being injected with the vaccine, who'll bear the cost of anti-retroviral drugs? What compensation will be given if the person dies? Also, what happens if the volunteer infects others?"