Nigerian researchers seek cure for HIV

Doctors performing surgery on a patient

The Institute of Human Virology, Jos, Plateau State, is conducting a research to build a vaccine against HIV.

The institute is currently collaborating with communities in Jos to build the capacity of the centre to conduct HIV vaccine research.

A research consultant with the institute and doctor at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Morenike Ukpong, said that the Global HIV Vaccine Research is critical as it is the single tool that would likely stop the HIV epidemic.

Ms. Ukpong said in Abuja on Friday that the vaccine would bring the same success as with polio, measles, smallpox and other diseases like whooping cough.

According to her, there is still so much to be done with respect to developing a vaccine against the virus.

The study Coordinator of HIV Vaccine Demonstration Project, Evaezi Okpokoro, said the involvement of journalists and civil society groups, would be initiated to support the global HIV vaccine research agenda.

He explained that the type of HIV strain in Nigeria is different from the type of HIV strain found in other countries of the world.

“This may likely have implication for HIV vaccine research in Nigeria; we need to ensure that a vaccine that is sensitive to its HIV strain is developed.

“The project in Jos is an effort in this direction,”  Mr. Okpokoro said.

He said that the New HIV Vaccine Study Group and Microbicide Advocacy Society, NHVMAS, is working with the research site to build the capacity of the community to actively engage with the research process.

“It is working with 34 civil society groups in general and 16 NGOs specifically to build their capacity to be able to train the Jos community about the research,’’ he added.

He also confirmed that a Community Advisory Board had been constituted for the project.

According to him, the membership of the board is based on recommendation of the Jos community representatives; who will be actively engaged throughout the duration of the research process.

The Community Study Coordinator, Chuk Okonkwo, said the initiative is a great development.

“The aim of the community engagement process is to enable the community to become active co-partners on the project,” he said.

He said the agency hoped to achieve this by the end of the two years of NHVMAS engagement with this project.

“We are happy with the current level of engagement; we also know that it needs a lot of effort in ensuring that community capacity is built.

“The current level of partnership is strong enough to enable us achieve this objective,” he added.

The Global HIV Vaccine Research is carrying out various research and test trials in seeking a cure for the virus.

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