Maryland Institute of Human Virology Reaches Agreement With China To Treat HIV-Positive Patients, Train Doctors
The Maryland-based Institute of Human Virology on Monday signed an agreement with the Chinese government to assist the country in finding appropriate and efficient HIV/AIDS treatment methods and training physicians in AIDS-related care, the AP/WBAL Channel reports. The three-year, $7 million agreement -- which was signed in Baltimore by IHV Director Robert Gallo and Wang Yu, director of China's Center for Disease Control -- will be funded by the Chinese and U.S. governments, as well as outside sources, according to officials (Brumfield, AP/WBAL Channel, 8/29). Researchers from IHV and China will collaborate on efforts to find an effective HIV vaccine, as well as attempt to find new treatments, which could include a combination of antiretroviral drugs and traditional Chinese medicines. The pact also calls for IHV doctors to train Chinese physicians to treat HIV-positive patients and for China to send researchers to work at IHV's laboratories in Baltimore. Gallo -- a co-discoverer of HIV -- said the institute also plans to sign a commercial agreement in September with the Chinese government and the Hong Kong-based pharmaceutical company CK Life Sciences to develop HIV/AIDS therapies. Under the deal, IHV will hold a share in royalties.
Only about six of the more than 20 antiretroviral drug therapies available in the U.S. are available in China, but more could soon be available (Bor, Baltimore Sun, 8/29). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 of those people have AIDS. However, international experts and advocates say that the actual number of HIV-positive people in China probably is between one million and 1.5 million. UNAIDS has said that the number of HIV-positive people living in China could increase to 10 million by 2010 unless steps are taken to address the epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/27). IHV -- founded by Gallo in 1996 -- has focused on basic research on HIV transmission and the development of treatments and vaccines. Over the past two years, the institute's scope has "broadened considerably," with the U.S. government awarding more than $77 million to help deliver drugs to patients in Africa and the Caribbean, the Sun reports (Baltimore Sun, 8/29). IHV is a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, which is affiliated with the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland-Baltimore (UMBI release, 8/29).