Aids research for pregnant `unethical'
The United States is funding research aimed at helping Third World countries combat the spread of Aids from pregnant women to their children. But critics say the methods are knowingly endangering the lives of unborn infants. David Usborne looks at the two sides of the argument.
Being pursued in countries in Africa, in Thailand and the Dominican Republic, the studies are likened by the journal to the infamous Tuskegee experiment which, between 1932 and 1972, left 399 black men in Alabama untreated for syphilis so researchers could follow the disease's course.
These studies, backed by both the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, seek to find cheaper alternatives to the treatment given in richer countries to pregnant women with Aids: heavy doses of the drug AZT.
The use of AZT on infected women in pregnancy has been spectacularly successful. Research has shown that without AZT, roughly 25 per cent of women with Aids who give birth will produce babies with Aids. If women are treated with AZT, however, the rate falls to 8 per cent.
The problem in the Third World, however, is cost. AZT is an expensive drug and a course of treatment for each person costs $1,000. The researchers are trying to discover if lesser amounts can still help.
This research, however, is controversial: while half the women in each study are receiving AZT in varying dosages, half of them are not. In other words: the researchers are knowingly condemning some of the yet-to-be- born infants - as many as 1,000, according to critics - to death by Aids.
Defending the work, the NIH said in a statement: "We continue to believe that these studies, as designed, are not only appropriate but essential to finding a way as quickly as possible to prevent the potential infection of millions of infants worldwide with HIV."
Defenders of the programme say that were the researchers not present in these countries none of the women involved would have had access to AZT anyway.
The Washington-based advocacy group, Public Citizen, is attempting to have the studies suspended. "We have turned our backs on these mothers and their babies," said its director, Dr Peter Lurie.
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...