RWANDA: 45 to take part in HIV/AIDS vaccine trials
KIGALI, 10 March (PLUSNEWS) - Some 45 Rwandan volunteers are to take part in tests for a new HIV/AIDS vaccine, the minister of state for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in the Ministry of Health, Innocent Nyaruhirira, said on Wednesday.
The 10-month long trials, conducted by a US-based San Francisco project in conjunction with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, are due to begin before the end of March in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, he said.
Rwanda has an HIV infection rate estimated at 13 percent in urban areas and 5 percent in rural areas. Nyaruhirira said that between 10 percent and 13 percent of Rwanda’s 8.1 million people were HIV positive.
He told PlusNews that the trials would explore the volunteers' immunity, monitor the adverse effects of the vaccine and analyse the kind of antibodies that are produced.
"We certainly hope that an effective vaccine would eventually help many of our people," he said.
Rape, used as a weapon of war during the 1994 genocide, accelerated the HIV infection rate. "Militiamen who knew very well that were infected intentionally raped women," Nyaruhirira said.
Since the introduction of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in Rwanda four years ago, the prices for the drugs have dropped from US $727 to $27 per dose. However, only a small portion of HIV/AIDS patients have access to ARVs.
Rwanda is still waiting for money from the HIV/AIDS Global Fund in order to further reduce ARV prices to at least less than a dollar a day for a patient.