China starts human tests of Aids drug

China, criticised for a slow initial response to its Aids/HIV crisis, has begun its first human trials of a new Aids vaccine, Xinhua news agency said.

    Forty-nine volunteers will be tested over 14 months

    A 20-year-old man became the first volunteer to receive the Aids vaccine on Saturday, and seven others, four of them women, will join him, Xinhua said.

     

    Forty-nine volunteers aged between 18 and 50 would receive the tests in three phases, the first lasting 14 months.

     

    Experts have faulted China for being slow to recognise a growing Aids problem, exacerbated by the cover-up of the blood-selling schemes in the central province of Henan that infected scores of people in the mid-1990s.

     

    The government estimates that China, with a 1.3 billion population, has 840,000 people with HIV.

    Activists and experts say a more accurate figure would be 1-1.5 million.

     

    The United Nations has said that the number of HIV/Aids victims in China could rise to 10 million by 2010 unless serious steps are taken to fight the disease.


    Prevention shackled
     

    On World Aids Day in 2003, Premier Wen Jiabao shook hands with Aids patients at a Beijing hospital in a symbolic display of commitment to fighting the disease.

     

    Experts say over one million
    people in China are infected

    But efforts to step up Aids prevention remain shackled by politics and conservative attitudes towards sex.

     

    The Aids virus has infected more than 43 million people worldwide and killed 25 million.

    The incurable virus spreads through sexual contact, blood products and mothers' milk but can be controlled to some degree with cocktails of drugs called highly active antiretroviral therapy.

     

    The International Aids Vaccine Initiative has said dozens of potential vaccines are being tested and more than 70 human clinical trials have taken place, although none has yet promised to conquer the virus.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.