Trump Directive Halts HIV Cure Research, Pleases Religious Right
Scientists are upset with the Trump administration after members shut down research that could potentially lead to a cure for HIV, according to LGBTQ Nation.
A scientist that was responsible for supplying mice that have been modified with fetal tissue to labs that are attempting to find a cure for HIV was informed that the Department of Health and Human services has told researchers to discontinue acquiring fetal tissue. He write that this directive would stop all HIV research in the United States.
The ban on using fetal tissue is something that the Trump administration announced last year and it is now coming unto effect. This will affect many researchers in the biomedical field, as a good number use mice modified with fetal tissue, as the tissue creates an immune system in mice that is similar to that of a human's.
Republicans in Congress have attempted to put this ban in place for years in order to placate their religious followers as well as their anti-abortion ones. Anti-abortion individuals have also been trying to get this ban in place for years.
Warner Greene, director of the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure research, said that the research center was ready to proceed with the HIV cure experiments when what he describes as a "bombshell" was dropped upon them. Greene was scheduled to collaborate with another research facility in Montana when this decision came into effect.
Mice are one of the few animals who can also be infected with the HIV virus which makes them perfect for testing for HIV cures. Researchers at the Gladstone Center were planning on testing a potentially viable antibody that would prevent HIV from developing reservoirs, which are cells that are infected with HIV but do not produce the virus. Currently, there are no medications that affect the virus.
Greene commented that the mice and the antibody were ready to shipped to the Montana facility when this decision came about and that it would take a year to get back to where he was research-wise if he were to be greenlit to continue the experiment. Jermone Zack, a medical researcher who studies HIV at UCLA, said that his lab will have to be shut down because everything he does in the lab involves humanized mice.
In addition to this decision, the Department of Health and Humans Services announced earlier in the year that they announced the creation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, which is a subgroup of the HHS that is responsible for handling complaints from medical professionals who do not want to perform abortions or treat transgender patients.
If this trend continues, it will become increasingly more difficult for LGBTQ people to receive quality medical care.
Let's hope it won't come to that.
h/t: LGBTQ Nation