Cameroon health officials this week agreed to resume a clinical trial in the county to determine if the anti-HIV drug Viread is useful in preventing HIV infections among high-risk women, the Financial Times reports. The nation's health ministry had suspended the trial earlier this month after AIDS activists claimed that the study violated ethical standards by not providing the participants with HIV prevention information and that the female sex workers participating in the trial hadn't fully understood the consent forms they signed. The ministry has ruled that Family Health International, which is running the study in Cameroon, can continue "without interruption." FHI officials have assured Cameroonian health authorities that any sex worker who becomes infected with HIV during the study will be provided with antiretroviral therapy and medical care.
The study aims to determine if daily use of Viread can help prevent HIV infection in people at high risk for the sexually transmitted disease. Similar trials involving sexually active gay men are underway in San Francisco and Atlanta as well as among heterosexuals in Ghana, Nigeria, and Malawi. Officials in Cambodia last August halted a Viread trial that involved 1,000 sex workers over concerns that the women involved were not given proper HIV prevention training and that medical treatment to address the side effects of the drug were not guaranteed for the participants.