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South Africa Begins Testing of AIDS Vaccine

Written By David D'Angelo on Monday, July 20, 2009 | 7/20/2009

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – South Africa is launching clinical trials of the first AIDS vaccines created by a developing country, a feat by scientists who forged ahead even when some of their political leaders shocked the world with unscientific pronouncements about the disease.

Trials to test the safety in humans of the vaccines begin this month on 36 healthy volunteers, Anthony Mbewu, president of South Africa's government-supported Medical Research Council, said in an interview Sunday. Mbewu's respected organization shepherded the project.

A trial of 12 volunteers in the United States began earlier this year.

Mbewu said the vaccine was designed at the University of Cape Town with technical help from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which also manufactured the vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and a leading AIDS researcher, was in South Africa for the launch.

During nearly 10 years of denial and neglect, South Africa developed a staggering AIDS crisis. Around 5.2 million South Africans were living with HIV last year — the highest number of any country in the world. Young women are hardest hit, with one-third of those aged 20 to 34 infected with the virus.

In 1999, the ministries of health and of science and technology founded the vaccine initiative and poured 250 million rand into it over nearly 10 years.

Source: Associated Press on Yahoo News


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