Special News ReportAIDS Research

The Rise and Fall of Projet SIDA

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Science  28 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5343, pp. 1565-1568
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5343.1565

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KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO-- An international research project here, jointly funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Belgium's Institute of Tropical Medicine, provided many early insights into AIDS. Projet SIDA (French for AIDS Project) had at its peak a $4 million budget and has been the source of 120 publications and more than 1000 abstracts to date. Its premature demise in 1991, when it fell victim to the civil unrest that tore Zaire apart, has left an unexploited legacy: a vast accumulation of blood samples from patients, some of whom are still being followed today, that could offer valuable insights into preventing and treating the disease.