Salim Abdool Karim
THE head of the Medical Research Council, once South Africa’s most prestigious medical research institution, is battling to attract private money to supplement state funding as local companies focus their social responsibility budgets on creating jobs and improving education.
"Is there a tradition of philanthropy funding science in South Africa? No, very little," says Prof Salim Abdool Karim, appointed interim president of the Medical Research Council (MRC) by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi 18 months ago to turn the ailing institution around.
Ahead of World AIDS Day 2013, leading HIV/AIDS researchers in Durban have urged society to focus on insights, innovation and integrity in the journey into an HIV-free future – and to put people at the centre of health services.
The change wrought by the mass distribution of HIV/Aids drugs is akin to a major societal shift, writes David Smith.
South Africa has witnessed an "unparalleled" five-year increase in life expectancy since 2005 thanks to the world's biggest programme of HIV/Aids drug treatment, researchers say.
The trend marks a spectacular reversal from the days when former president Thabo Mbeki was branded an "Aids denialist" whose dogma was blamed for 330 000 deaths. In a few short years, South Africa has gone from global disgrace to shining example.
Two South African women may have helped unlock the key to a vaccine to rid the world of one its deadliest epidemics, according to new research released by South African HIV experts.
In 2005, an HIV-negative woman from the city of Durban enrolled in a study of acute HIV infection conducted by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). Two years later, another HIV-negative woman in her early 20s, living in the rural township of Vulindlela, joined CAPRISA’s ground-breaking trial of the efficacy of an antiretroviral-based vaginal microbicide to prevent HIV infection.
WHEN an HIV vaccine is developed, it must come from South Africa and be available and affordable for all South Africans, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Monday.
A consortium of scientists on Monday announced that it was one small step closer to developing an HIV vaccine with the discovery of how select individuals are capable of making potent antibodies that can neutralise most HIV strains.
SOUTH African scientists have discovered how some people can make potent antibodies capable of neutralising strains of HIV, taking researchers a step closer to developing a vaccine.
A vaccine that prevents HIV infection has proven elusive for decades, partly because there are many different varieties of the rapidly evolving virus. One of the strategies scientists are exploring is how to produce a vaccine that prompts the body to make "broadly acting antibodies" that combat multiple strains of HIV.
Scientists have known for some time that about one in five people infected with HIV is capable of making these powerful antibodies after they have been infected for several years, but exactly how they arise has been a mystery.
World-renowned Durban scientist and researcher Professor Salim Abdool Karim, has been elected to the American Institute of Medicine as a foreign associate in recognition of his pioneering contributions to research into HIV prevention and treatment.
Election to the institute is considered to be one of the highest international honours in the fields of medical sciences, health care and public health.
Karim is the director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA (Caprisa), Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and was this year appointed president of the SA Medical Research Council.
South African HIV Clinicians have welcomed an announcement that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has approved the use of an antiretroviral by sexually active HIV-negative men and women as a method of reducing the risk HIV infection in adults.
The debate around the use of ARVs as prevention surfaced several years ago with a number of studies showing it to be effective and safe. In what has been described a possibly a major turning point, the FDA announced this week that it had approved the use of tenofovir disproxil fumarate/emtricibatine (TDF/FTC), also known as Truvada, in HIV prevention.
PROF Salim Abdool Karim, the newly appointed president of the Medical Research Council (MRC), sweeps into his office exuding energy and beaming from ear to ear, hardly the disposition you’d expect from someone who had less than four hours sleep the night before. His ability to thrive under pressure will stand him in good stead as he seeks to turn around an institute in the doldrums: the MRC’s international reputation has slid, its staff are demotivated, and it is chronically underfunded.
Africans tracking the worldwide HIV epidemic have not found much to celebrate since Aids began ravaging the continent 30 years ago, but researchers are optimistic that they are learning as much from their failures as their successes.
Sub-Saharan Africa still carries the biggest burden of HIV worldwide, and while there has been a significant improvement in access to antiretroviral treatment in recent years, scientists searching for a gel or vaccine that can prevent HIV infection ride a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment.