biggest-yet grant for the treatment of South Africans with Aids, worth R230
million, is expected to offer new hope to whole communities.
the Western Cape, the grant from the United States's National Institutes of
Health will entrench the switch here from focusing on the prevention of
mother-to-child transmission of the virus, to treating not only the mothers too,
but entire families.
concern grows over predictions of millions of Aids orphans, the grant offers
Aids specialists the chance to prove that treatment of communities will ensure
families stay together longer.
300 and 600 people will be treated
will also combine the skills of top Aids scientists Professor Robin Wood,
associate professor of medicine at the University of Cape Town, Professor
Estrilita Janse van Rensburg, head of Stellenbosch University's department of
medical virology, Dr Mark Cotton, who heads the paediatric HIV unit at Tygerberg
Hospital, and Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, head of the infectious disease clinical
research unit at UCT's Lung Institute.
will be joined by doctors James McIntyre and Glenda Gray, co-directors of the
perinatal HIV research unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, who earlier this
year were honoured with the 2002 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human
with Bekker and Cotton, will run the programme which they regard as a coup in
their bid to show that the key to addressing HIV/Aids is by "safeguarding
Janse van Rensburg will take responsibility for the laboratory tests, to record both CD4 counts which measure the body's ability to fight the disease, and viral loads which measure the amount of virus in the body.
'The community is small enough to have an impact on the entire population'
will run another concurrent study to characterise the different HIV strains
circulating in different centres.
300 and 600 people will be treated here and about the same number by Gray and
Masiphumelele, Cotton will take responsibility for paediatric treatment of HIV
with anti-retrovirals, Wood for the adults, while Bekker will examine how
anti-retrovirals influence tuberculosis and the types of TB in the community.
will also run a paediatric vaccination study, examining the efficacy of
especially pneumonia vaccines in HIV-positive children with and without
also heads the Gugulethu anti-retrovirals programme started a month ago which,
courtesy of other overseas funding, is set to treat 150 people with end-stage
is the first all-South African project of its kind, run in co-operation with the
provincial health department. Wood said it was a forerunner of the Masiphumelele
project, also giving priority to people like mothers who had taken drugs to
prevent them passing on HIV to their children.
Masiphumelele we will be treating everyone in the family who needs
anti-retrovirals," Wood said.
aim, said Bekker, was that eventually everyone in the community would know their
an accredited vaccine trial site by the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative
for when clinical trials of vaccines start, was selected because the specialists
already have "a good relationship with health authorities there".
community is small enough to have an impacton the entire population,"