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Tue Aug 30 15:07:56 SAST 2016

Don’t ‘lapse into complacency’ over news of promising HIV prophylactic: DA

TMG Digital | 07 March, 2016 12:18
The fact that “South Africa’s epidemic remains the largest in the world‚ (with) the vast majority of new infections resulting from sexual intercourse”‚ made this country the “best place to host the clinical trials”. File photo
Image by: Epa/Maurizio Gambarini via The Conversation

The promise of a pre-vaccine genetically modified organism that shows “signs of preventing HIV” should not mean that South Africa can “let up on the safe-sex campaign”.

The Democratic Alliance’s health spokesperson‚ Dr Wilmot James‚ said it is “mightily encouraged” that the “first clinical trials to test the efficacy and safety” will be done in South Africa.

But‚ he cautioned: “It is important to state that this is a pre-vaccine which we are hopeful will yield a vaccine that will go a long way to preventing HIV in the long run.”

No date has yet been set for the commencement of the trials‚ but the Medical Research Council’s president‚ Professor Glenda Grey‚ told SAfm's AM Live on Monday morning they are set to begin soon.

She told the radio programme that it will the biggest medical trial ever conducted in the country. James said initial trials conducted in Thailand saw scientists “inserting some HIV coding genes into a virus (the canarypox virus) that show signs of stimulating an immune response to HIV”.

The fact that “South Africa’s epidemic remains the largest in the world‚ (with) the vast majority of new infections resulting from sexual intercourse”‚ made this country the “best place to host the clinical trials”. “A vaccine will bring monumental relief to our overwhelming disease burden but‚ we are getting closer but not quite there yet‚” said James.

“In the meanwhile‚ South Africa must never let up on the safe-sex campaign‚ public awareness and education to deal with a disease that is preventable.

“The moment of the first scientific breakthrough is not the moment to lower our guard and to lapse into complacency.”

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