Wits launches first rural HIV vaccine trial site

clinical trialsThe Wits University has launched an HIV vaccine trial site at Mkhuhlu in Mpumalanga. The launch was attended by Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, the deputy minister of the department of health and Derek Hanekom, the deputy minister of the department of science and technology.

This trial site is the first to be established in a rural area in the country. The four other HIV vaccine sites are in urban areas including Soweto, Cape Town, Pretoria and Klerskdorp. Steve Pollman, a professor at Wits University says the HIV vaccine trial site is expected to start functioning in July. He says there will be more than one HIV vaccine to be tested. The vaccine trials are expected to last for three years.

Aids vaginal gel sparked the controversy
Meanwhile, the Medical Research Council says clinical trials are not an intellectual and scientific exercise done out of curiosity by scientists. Anthony Mbewu, a council's professor at Wits says clinical trials are required and demanded by Drug Regulatory Authorities of every country. In South Africa this authority is the Medicines Control Council.

His statement follows the controversy surrounding the premature termination of an anti-Aids vaginal gel, which had shown a potential to increase the risk of HIV infection instead of lowering it. Mbewu says clinical trials are done because the Medicines Control Councils demands rigorous evidence of the effectiveness, safety and quality of the new products.

The anti-Aids vaginal gel trials were conducted on over 1 300 women in South Africa, Benin, Uganda and India.

source SABC News