AIDS Research Controversy Deepens

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BOSTON: A New England Journal of Medicine editorial critical of AIDS research programs in Africa has sparked the resignation of two AIDS experts from the magazine’s board. Doctors David Ho (TIME Man of the Year for 1996) and Catherine M. Wilfert have resigned in protest, on the grounds that the editors should have consulted with board members before publishing only one side of a contentious issue.

The editorial attacked programs which issue placebos to people with AIDS when testing inexpensive low-dose AZT treatments in Africa, on the grounds that failing to offer treatment is akin to the notorious Tuskegee experiments on men with syphillis — for which President Clinton recently apologized. Defenders of using placebos in such research say they are the only way of proving that low doses of AZT are better than leaving the disease untreated.

Despite the resignations, the Journal’s editor, Dr. Jerome Kassirer, said the board had never been consulted over the specific content of articles or editorials.