The Washington Post on Wednesday profiled the Nigerian arm of an ongoing clinical trial that is testing the antiretroviral drug Viread--which is known generically as tenofovir--to determine if it can reduce the risk of HIV infection. Researchers in the city of Ibadan have enrolled approximately 125 commercial sex workers, who were recruited from several brothels and have been taking the drug once a day since July.
The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are funding three separate studies of Viread, which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences. The drug is FDA-approved for use as a treatment for HIV infection and has been shown to boost immune response and lower viral levels in the bloodstreams of patients who are resistant to other antiretrovirals. The CDC has granted $3.5 million to fund trial sites in San Francisco and Atlanta, while the Gates Foundation awarded a $6.5 million grant to Family Health International to conduct a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial including 2,000 HIV-negative volunteers at sites in Cambodia, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Malawi.
According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the NIH also awarded a $2.1 million grant to University of California, San Francisco, researchers to test Viread in 960 HIV-negative Cambodian women, most of whom are commercial sex workers. However, Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen in August ordered a stop to the planned human clinical trial in the country because of the possible effects of the drug on trial participants. The initial results of the Nigerian study are expected in 2006, according to the Post.