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South Africa at the forefront of HIV/Aids research NEWS / 23 MAY 2018, 09:34AM / ATHINA MAY

Cape Town - South Africa is leading the response to the HIV epidemic with a major research project conducted at the Clinical HIV Research Unit (CHRU) at Wits University. The project has seen the development of 30 life-saving HIV and Aids drugs being registered.

The milestone was revealed on World Clinical Trials Day on Tuesday by Professor Ian Sanne, who heads the CHRU. According to Sanne, the drugs will lead to a 95% reduction in the mortality rate.

“Over the last 25 years the research and treatment of HIV/Aids has evolved rapidly, possibly more than in any other field of medicine, significantly reducing the mortality and morbidity of people living with Aids.

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“South Africa’s contribution to these advancements is significant. Successful clinical trials here have led to the registration of over 30 medicines for HIV and a major reduction in HIV transmission,” said Sanne.

He said South Africa has also seen successes in preventing tuberculosis (TB) and treating drug-resistant TB. This is attributed to the development of three TB medicines and a one-month drug which prevents TB among household contacts.

The TB drugs were recently registered in South Africa and, according to Sanne, the medical advancements are due to South Africa having internationally acclaimed academic and research institutions and an efficient national laboratory which allowed researchers to lead research within HIV/Aids and TB.

“Our clinical trials adhere to international best practice in terms of ethics and good clinical research practice. It also positions South Africa at the centre of research efforts into infectious diseases and finding solutions to the world’s public health priorities of HIV/Aids, TB and malaria.

“The measurement of successful research is the impact on the disease. South Africa’s track record here is internationally regarded, with many trials resulting in cures and reductions in the disease burden,” said Sanne.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) national training co-ordinator Luckyboy Mkhondwane, who advocates increased access to treatment for HIV patients, said the CHRU was renowned for its work in leading the dissemination of HIV treatment in South Africa.

Mkhondwane said the studies led by CHRU had resulted in a new drug to be developed called Dolutegravir, which is expected to be released and made available to the public by 2020.

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