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Aids drug trials on prostitutes suspended

From IOL Africa

Cameroon suspended controversial tests of a United States-manufactured anti-Aids drug on Friday amid complaints that prostitutes were encouraged to have unprotected sex under the trials with no guarantee of medical care if they became infected.

A government statement read on national radio said trials of the drug Viread by California-based biotech company Gilead Sciences were suspended "because of lapses and dysfunction". It gave no further details.

A total of 400 prostitutes were taking part in the trials, which began in Cameroon's capital, Douala, in 2003.

One group was given Viread and another a placebo to see if those taking the drug had a statistically lower incidence of becoming with infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.


"We know that the women who accept to participate in this experiment will certainly become seropositive, yet there is no promise of anti-retroviral drugs for the participants at the end of the exercise," said Arthur Noumbi of campaign group Elite Polytechnicienne.

Although sex workers participating in the tests are given condoms by Gilead Sciences, "this is just a hoax, because we know that to really get the drug effectively tested, the prostitutes need to have unprotected sex", said Noumbi.

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