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Tenofovir Prevention Study Problems
AIDS Scientists, Activists Fail to Fully Resolve Rift Over Trials
May 24, 2005
A meeting in Seattle between activists and researchers failed to fully resolve a rift that has disrupted some studies of a promising AIDS-prevention pill.
The meeting found common ground on some issues that have arisen as AIDS treatments are being increasingly tested in developing nations, where the illness is causing the most harm. Conferees agreed study volunteers should receive more counseling and protective equipment -- including female condoms, worn internally by women to prevent infection of volunteers whose partners refuse to wear the male condoms provided in studies.
Moreover, a report resulting from the meeting said that researchers' effort to counsel volunteers "was at times ill-informed and inconsistent."
Kate MacQueen, senior scientist at Family Health International, a nonprofit research group running some of the studies, said her group would take the report to heart. However, the meeting didn't fully resolve the demand from activist groups for lifelong drug treatment for volunteers who become infected with AIDS during the studies. While conferees called for " ensure treatment," they didn't settle the crucial question of who pays for it.
Also, activists' demanded that Thai drug addicts be offered needle exchange as a condition of their participation in studies. The U.S. government bars needle exchange in research it funds.
These objections shut down or suspended trial sites for a possible AIDS-prevention pill in two countries. The pill, called tenofovir, or Viread, is made by Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., and is approved as a treatment for AIDS.
The International AIDS Society convened the meeting to bring together activists and researchers with major study sponsors: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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