REGION MUST BE FIRM TO FIGHT HIV/AIDS

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Patrons attending the inaugural science week lecture at the Sherbourne Centre, were last night told of some of the attitudes towards the spread of HIV/AIDS, by renowned Professor Courtney Bartholomew.

The visiting professor shared some of his research on HIV/AIDS with the audience, which included Minister of Commerce, Senator Lynette Eastmond, Permanent Secretary, Cephas Gooding, staff of the National Council for Science and Technology and other stakeholders.

According to Professor Bartholomew, the countless years of research he had put into the study of HIV/AIDS showed that even if a vaccine was to be discovered, it would happen no time soon.

“One day we may be immune to the virus, it might take us centuries. I was involved in the first vaccine construct and what I can tell you, after two years we discovered that we were very far from having an effective HIV vaccine,” he said.

He noted that the attitudes towards HIV/AIDS of some of the people who visited his centre was shocking. “I see some 3000 patients at my treatment centre, and no matter what we tell them that they are HIV positive and they are on treatment, they are still not using condoms regularly and they are certainly not faithful to one partner,” said the professor.

He added that intellectual property was now a buzz word in medicine and it somehow posed a challenge to the access of drugs, particularly those currently used to treat HIV/AIDS.

“Drugs are essential to the health and life of millions; but intellectual property protection has effectively made such costly drugs unavailable except in developed countries. History will have a lot to say about that.

“Concerns about the consequences of intellectual property rights have obvious implications for us in the developing world. To think that we are living in one world, but because of cost, we are allowing millions to die in Africa and India,” said Professor Bartholomew.

The visiting professor also spoke at length on the topics: human and animal cloning; therapeutic cloning, giving specific examples to differentiate between the two; stem cell research and its possibilities for the cures to human illnesses; the various dimensions of stem cells and related research; invitro-fertilisation and the moral issues surrounding it.

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