U.S. Billionaire Bill Gates and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday a joint plan to finance the testing of possible AIDS vaccines.

The plan, named Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative, is to receive 111 million Canadian dollars (94.3 million U.S. dollars) from Ottawa and 28 million Canadian dollars (23.8 million U.S. dollars) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The two signed the agreement at a news conference that was held on Canada's Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

"(This initiative) will allow us to accelerate the pace towards the discovery of an HIV vaccine, construct a facility to manufacture promising vaccines for clinical trials, move vaccines to the clinical trial stage more quickly, (and) improve access to an eventual vaccine," Harper said.

The initiative will help to coordinate the activities of Canadian and international researchers so that information can be shared effectively, he added.

"AIDS is a very tough problem," said Gates. "The long-term solution is a vaccine."

As the world's richest man, Gates' wealth is estimated at about50 billion U.S. dollars. He has endowed his foundation with 24 billion U.S. dollars to support global health, library and education initiatives around the world.

Through their foundation, Gates and his wife Melinda have donated more than 500 million U.S. dollars to treat AIDS, as well as tuberculosis and malaria.

Roughly 65 million people around the world have been diagnosed with AIDS since it was first identified in 1981. The United Nations estimates close to three million people died from the disease in 2006.