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The adventure of HIV/AIDS in Cuba has to be one of the most successful public health stories in the World today. In the mid-1980s, returning Cuban soldiers from sub-Sahara Africa were ill but the etiology of their disease was inconclusive. These soldiers were quarantined to prevent a possible pandemic in Cuba. As the World began to elucidate this curious new viral disease from Africa, under the orders of Jorge Perez, M.D. and others, Cuba destroyed all non-Cuban derived blood products because they believed blood transmission of this infectious agent was highly possible. Additionally, an extensive epidemiologic program was instituted to track the prevalence of HIV in Cuba and be useful in a comprehensive HIV/SIDA prevention and treatment program for all of Cuba. Largely through the efforts of Jorge Perez, M.D. at the IPK Tropical Medicine Institute, Cuba has the lowest prevalence of HIV in the Western Hemisphere. The Cuba AIDS Project is a non-profit humanitarian effort of private USA citizens helping the people and non-governmental organizations (esp. the Monserrate Church in Central Habana) of Cuba in their struggle against HIV in Cuba.
Cuba has also embarked on manufacturing anti-retroviral agents to combat HIV in Cuba. If Cuba can produce an excess of its needs, then Cuba intends to sell these anti-viral pharmaceuticals to other nations, esp. in Latin America and Southeast Asia. In the first 10 months of 2002, the use of Cuban manufactured anti-HIV medications sharply reduced morbidity and mortality in patients with AIDS in Cuba. At yearend 2002, Cuba produced anti-HIV medicine for about 1/3 of its HIV/AIDS patients. In 2007, Cuba produces enough anti-HIV medicine to care for 100% of its HIV/AIDS patients and export, at cost, these medications to other Caribbean and Latin American nations.
Clinical trials in Cuba to develop an effective HIV vaccine have been jointly undertaken by the Finlay Institute and the IPK Tropical Medicine Institute. The outcomes of these clinical trials will be posted on this website as the data becomes available. Because vaccines are not yet successful in preventing HIV and HIV drug-resistant strains are increasing, Cuba will also be pursuing RNA interference research, which, if successful, not only would be useful in combating HIV but also many other viral diseases.
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