Botswana Human Rights Group Says Country Offers No Protection to Participants in HIV Vaccine Trial
August 19, 2003
The Botswana Center for Human Rights has criticized the Botswanan government for not enacting laws to protect participants in an HIV vaccine trial taking place in Botswana and the United States, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. The 18-month study by the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership for HIV Research and Education began this year after successful animal testing and involves 42 HIV-negative volunteers from Botswana and the United States (AP/Los Angeles Times, 8/17). The trial aims to determine healthy adults' immune response to the experimental vaccine known as EP HIV-1090. The vaccine, which is made by San Diego, Calif.-based Epimmune, works by activating CD8+ T cells (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/21). BCHR -- which is a member of the Community Advisory Board, an organization established to ensure that clinical trials "respect the human rights, dignity and safety of trial participants" -- said that Botswana does not offer sufficient legal protection to ensure that the trials will be "safe" and "humane," according to the AP/Las Vegas Sun. BCHR Director Alice Mogwe said that the government should abide by the principles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which says that "no one shall be subjected to scientific experimentation," according to the AP/Sun. The government has said that trial participants are already protected by the Drugs and Related Substances act. "There is also the Health Research and Development Committee, whose job it is to look after all health-related research taking place in Botswana, to make sure it is done in a scientific manner," Dr. Patson Mazonde, Botswana's director of health services, said. According to Mogwe, CAB cannot sue or be sued if any participants have an adverse experience during the trial (Motseta, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/16).
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