How safe is the “miracle HIV Prevention Gel” announced at the recent World AIDS conference in Vienna? The vaginal gel produced in South Africa is supposed to reduce a woman’s chances of HIV contraction by as much as 39% and reduce chances of Herpes infection by 51%. Quite staggering claims. However the gel may not be the saviour in waiting as proclaimed by it’s producers. South African writer and land rights activist, Andile Mngxitama has challenged these claims which include “empowering women” and calls into question both the ethics of the research and the interpretation of the findings.
There are shocking ethical questions the study raises and I’m told that the medical science fraternity and people who are concerned with ethics have not raised their voices.
For starters, the study was conducted in the most depressed areas. Women who participated in the study can be said to be a “vulnerable group”. This means issues of consent become very tricky.
Did the women know the full implications of subjecting themselves to the study? Why was the study not conducted in urban areas with white middle- class women?
Just imagine this, the study had to find almost a thousand black vulnerable women who are HIV-negative and then wait for a “statistical significant” number of them to become HIV-positive in order to draw conclusions.
This callousness and disrespect for black lives is shocking.
The women were divided into two groups without them knowing who was protected and who wasnt and at the end of the study 60 % of the women were found to be HIV Positive. How many of the women are positive as a result of believing they were safe with the gel? How can a gel be marketed as a safe women empowering prevention if more than half who tested it are now positive?
It seems that it’s either these women were used as lab rats and discarded, and this was on the basis of the assumption that they were going to be HIV-positive anyway. So the 40percent that is said to have been “protected” are saved!
No one asked a simple question – if these women were recruited from high-risk HIV areas, how did they stay negative for as long as they did? Would this not have been a more ethical study than subjecting people to such risks?
Medical science genocide is allowed against the weak historically, but when the weak are blacks then it doesn’t really matter.
The idea of a gel that prevents transmission of HIV operates in the same logic of circumcision as HIV prevention methods. These methods are encouraged among blacks.
South Africa has now joined the United States in using highly questionaable research methods and Black people as guinea pigs. Andile has now been censored as a South African HIV organisation Section 27 has written to his employers, Foundation for Human Rights, who have now asked him to make no further comment on the matter until investigations are complete. So much for free speech and the right to challenge science and the establishment. But thank goodness someone dared to question the nature of the research and its finding rather than jump on the bandwagon – there is money to be made here, huge sums of money.