Monday, July 20, 2009

South Africa starts AIDS vaccine trial..and stops funding it!

People knew this was coming, but it's still depressing.

South Africa has started trials of its own locally-developed AIDS vaccine, while at the same time announcing it has run out of money to fund the project. The trial will continue with U.S. money, but this is a blow for what many hoped would be an all-African contribution to the AIDS vaccine effort.

But at least it will keep many of the South African trial sites going, and will keep AIDS vaccine efforts in the news -- even if almost nobody sees any breakthoughs coming soon.

Here's an interesting excerpt of an interview that the Sydney Morning Herald did with Nicoli Nattrass, probably South Africa's best AIDS economist:

AIDS deaths are expected to reach an all-time high in the next 12 months, while the Government's investment in treatments is the lowest per capita in the region, says Nicoli Nattrass, the director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit. "The most recent model [shows] the denialism of the Mbeki era cut off at least 1 per cent of South Africa's growth rate per year over the last 10 years," Professor Nattrass says.

The rest of the article is predictably doom-and-gloom --