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The ethical and legal regulation of HIV-vaccine research in Africa: lessons from Cameroon, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia

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Ethical and legal frameworks are important for ensuring that the goals of scientific research are realised while at the same time the rights and welfare of human participants are adequately protected. A balance in attaining these two goals can be achieved if such frameworks provide for legally binding structures and processes to oversee, regulate, and monitor research on human participants according to accepted norms and standards. From 2007 to 2009, an ethical/legal audit, sponsored by the WHO/UNAIDS Ethics, Law and Human Rights Working Group of the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP ELH), was conducted in regard to five African countries (Cameroon, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia) to determine whether these countries have adequate laws, ethical guidelines and policies in place to regulate HIV-vaccine research. This article discusses the findings of the audit with a view to highlighting key lessons that can be learnt from these countries. The article provides the context of the audit by highlighting its rationale, aims and methods. We discuss the general findings of the audit and the complex issues arising from HIV-vaccine research, specifically. Lastly, we propose specific ways in which the ethical/legal frameworks guiding research with human participants in these countries can be improved.
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Keywords: Africa; HIV/AIDS; clinical trials; country profiles; ethics; guidelines; health research; legislation; policy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050Johannesburg, South Africa 2: Ipas, PO Box 5027Chapel Hill,North Carolina,27514, United States 3: University of Botswana, Office of Research and Development, Private BagUB00708,Gaborone, Botswana 4: Department of Community Health and Primary Care,University of Lagos, College of Medicine, PO Box 35950, Agodi, Ibadan, Nigeria 5: Rwanda Ministry of Health, PO Box 84Kigali, Rwanda 6: Zambia AIDSLaw Research and Advocacy Network (ZARAN), Plot No. 22, Katemo Road, Rhodes Park, PO Box 39088Lusaka, Zambia

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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