Kenya Begins AIDS Trials
Trials of a much-lauded AIDS vaccine specifically developed for Afri-
cans were launched in Kenya yesterday.
The vaccine was developed to fight subtype A of HIV, the strain of
the virus most prevalent in Africa.
"I now believe an AIDS vaccine is possible and we can end AIDS for
all time," said Gilbert Carnathan, vaccine developments project man-
ager with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
According to Kenyan Health Minister Sam Ongeri, 2.6 million Kenyans
are HIV-positive and 600 die from AIDS daily. He said the vaccine was
"the best hope to Kenyans," adding that Africa is "in the thick of a
disaster" (Reuters/ABCNEWS.com, 6 Mar).
The vaccine came about through an IAVI-funded partnership between re-
search teams from Oxford University and the University of Nairobi.
The partners agreed in December to use their royalties and joint pat-
ent ownership to guarantee access to an AIDS vaccine to Kenya and
other developing countries.
IAVI President Seth Berkley thanked the volunteers participating in
the vaccine trials. "They are the true heroes of this endeavor," he
said. "With 15,000 new HIV infections every day, there is no time to
spare" (IAVI release, 6 Mar).
A 31-year-old doctor who volunteered said she did so to fight back
against the disease, which is devastating Africa (Andrew England, As-
sociated Press/CNN.com, 6 Mar).
The first two-year phase of the trials is meant to test the safety of
the vaccine. The next two-year phase will include trials on higher-
risk subjects and monitoring of immune response. The third phase,
which could last up to four years, will include trials on those in
the highest-risk category, such as truck drivers and sex workers
(SAPA/South Africa Independent Online, 6 Mar).
Scientists developed the Kenyan vaccine following a discovery by doc-
tors that a group of prostitutes in a poor district of Nairobi who
were repeatedly exposed to HIV did not contract the virus. There are
about 20 AIDS vaccines currently being tested worldwide
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