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Family Health International, a group working to promote reproductive and sexual health around the world, announced Wednesday it is ending its clinical trial testing Gilead Sciences' anti-HIV drug Viread as a possible way to prevent HIV infections among sex workers in Cameroon, AllAfrica.com reports. The trial was funded by a $6.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and aimed to gauge whether daily Viread treatment was effective in preventing HIV infections among sex workers. Cameroon's health ministry in February announced that it was suspending the trial after AIDS activists argued that the sex workers being recruited for the study were not receiving adequate HIV prevention information and were not guaranteed HIV treatment if they became infected during the clinical trial.
FHI decided to terminate the trial because of the ongoing opposition to it and the hold placed on the study by the Cameroon government. The clinic where the trials are taking place will be closed in September after the women who have already enrolled in the study complete their final health care visits. According to FHI, the five women who have contracted HIV during the study will receive long-term access to antiretroviral therapy.
Clinical trials evaluating Viread's effectiveness in preventing HIV infections are still under way in Thailand, Malawi, Ghana, and the United States, but have been called off in Nigeria and Cambodia because of similar concerns to those expressed in Cameroon. The U.S. trial includes sexually active HIV-negative gay men in Atlanta and San Francisco.