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Clinical Trials, HIV/AIDS Vaccine and the Vulnerated - Essay Example

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Clinical Trials, HIV/AIDS Vaccine and the Vulnerated Introduction Human Immunodeficiency Virus /Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is the most devastating epidemic that the recent times have encountered. (UNAIDS, 2011, p.15). Thirty years after it has been first announced, it is only in the last decade that the world has taken cognizant of the fact that it is a pandemic that affects countries around the globe, regardless of condition, regardless of location (UNAIDS, 2011)…
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Clinical Trials, HIV/AIDS Vaccine and the Vulnerated
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Download file to see previous pages This reality does not ignore the fact that, since its identification, there has been urgency in finding the right medicine for the disease, since the number of people affected with the disease rose from one million in 1981 to 27.5 million by the end of 2000 (UNAIDS, 2011). As such, scientific researches regarding HIV/AIDS have been conducted and clinical trials of potential treatments are being undertaken in different countries across the globe. However, as the race for the cure of HIV/AIDS ensued, the design and conduct of clinical trials for HIV/AIDS in developing countries have been mired with ethical issues (Shapiro & Meslin, 2001). Ideally, clinical trials should not exploit human subjects (Shapiro & Meslin, 2001). Ethical standards for clinical trials have been developed following the principles of justice and respect for human dignity and individual autonomy (Shapiro & Meslin, 2001). However, the context of the clinical trials is such that it is between the rich and the poor, the developed country as the funder and the developing country as the site. As such, there is an increasing concern regarding the potential exploitation in the existing relationship between funder and the host country. In this condition, this paper will address two pivotal questions. First, what are the ethical issues surrounding clinical trials of HIV Vaccine in poor, developing countries? Second, how and why the poor people, who are in a vulnerable condition, become a target in the discourse of exploitation in a clinical trial for HIV/AIDS vaccine? The Ethical Issues There are several ethical issues surrounding clinical trials of HIV vaccines. Some of these are the following. First, there is no guarantee and clarity whether the benefits of the clinical trials of HIV/AIDs vaccine will be delivered equally to all who need it, especially the world’s poor (Selemogo, 2008; Shapiro & Meslin, 2001; Singh & Mills, 2005; Vallely et al., 2011). This ethical issue has become apparent in Sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS is an extremely monumental hurdle that prevents sustainable development in the region (Poku, 2002). This is due to the fact that an “estimated 22.5 million [20.9 million–24.2 million] people living with HIV resided in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009, representing 68% of the global HIV burden” (UNAIDS, 2010). In this context, numerous clinical trials have been conducted in the region, including the controversial studies of the efficacy of ARVs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV - PMTCT (Selemego, 2008). However, despite these studies, by 2005, 540 000 children were infected with HIV, with most of the cases happening through mother-to –child transmission (Selemogo, 2008). This happened because only about 9% of HIV-positive pregnant women in SSA are estimated to be receiving ARV prophylaxis for PMTCT (WHO, 2006). This reality attests to the condition that, despite the involvement of people from Africa in finding the cure for AIDS, there are no clear guidelines as to how it will be used and to whom will it be given. From these experiences, it can be deduced that the vaccine is not intended for those people who cannot ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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