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Second Human Trials of AIDS Vaccine to Kick off in Beijing

The second human trials of an AIDS vaccine will be held in Beijing, David Ho, the inventor of the AIDS "cocktail" treatment revealed yesterday.

Patients can have their lives extended by at least 10 years thanks to "cocktail" treatment, and a US AIDS patient who received the treatment in 1995 is still alive, said Ho.

"That's the best performance for my treatment," said Ho, who was hired on Friday as adviser to the National Institute of Biological Science in Beijing.

He also said the second human AIDS vaccine test is going to take place in Beijing after his research team conducted the first in New York last November.

He said China will be more intensively involved in cooperation in AIDS treatment and vaccine development with his organization.

"What is most needed (by HIV positive individuals in China) is treatment," said Ho, director and CEO of the Aaron Diamond Center based in New York.

He and his team are now in Yunnan Province to provide "cocktail" treatment to patients.

Ho said he expects the study will serve as a model for large-scale AIDS treatment in other Chinese provinces and also help raise public awareness with regard to the need for AIDS treatment in China.

"This would be viewed as the first step," he said, describing the fight against HIV/AIDS in China as a long road.

He also said the price of AIDS drugs has already made it possible for some patients to receive such treatment. Recent statistics indicated that US patients can spend about US$130 on the treatment.

"The figure is huge for an African patient but may be affordable for some Chinese," said Ho, adding that the treatment is currently the most effective way to control the illness and prolong the lives of the patients.

Yang Xiangzhong, a Chinese cloning expert based at the University of Connecticut, suggested that the Chinese government should form a special team to conduct cloning research, which can be used to treat diseases.

"China is competitive in cloning technology," said Yang, who was famous for cloning sheep and cows.

"I personally believe China can lead the world in this regard in five to 10 years if some encouraging steps are taken."

(China Daily July 17, 2004)

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