Despite the progress in anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS, it was important to have a safe vaccine which can prevent the disease, health experts said here Friday.

"There has been incredible progress towards a safe vaccine in the last eight months," Wayne Koff, vice president of International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), said at a conference here.

Benny Kottiri, Health Science Administrator and senior researcher at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said the development of a vaccine was very important for containing the disease.

According to V.M. Katoch, secretary department of health research, efforts to make a vaccine have to be intensified.

"India has contained it. We can further contain the virus, but HIV will always be there."

"Vaccines will always be needed for select groups," he added.

He cautioned that the research to develop a vaccine has not had many new leads. "We have to revisit all the studies".

India has third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world with 2.1 million Indians accounting for about four out of 10 people infected with the deadly virus in the Asiaa Pacific region, according to a UN report.