Animal Experimentation - Frequently Asked Questions: How will we combat AIDS without animal experimentation?
An Animal Rights Article from


AFMA Americans for Medical Advancement
March 2006

How will we combat AIDS without animal experimentation?

Billions of dollars have been spent trying to inflict AIDS on animals over the last twenty years, and these efforts have been entirely futile. Though researchers have succeeded in infecting chimpanzees with HIV, none has progressed to AIDS. Given this inability to produce an adequate animal model, it is foolish to assume that animal experimentation will lead us to therapies and cures for this terrible disease. Some in the AIDS community, with lives hanging in the balance, have come to this conclusion and engage in political protests against animal experimentation. Even scientists who have supported the chimpanzee model now vehemently criticize its lack of scientific merit.

The chimpanzee model doesn't get a lot of support in the scientific community.

I just don't see much coming out of the chimp work that has convinced us that that is a particularly useful model... [an animal model] that takes 12 to 14 years to develop doesn't sound to me to be ideal.

Investing AIDS research dollars in lab animal science is wasteful and keeps AIDS patients ill. Anyway, animals are not our only test-beds for development of AIDS therapies and a vaccine. As many as 34 million humans are infected with HIV worldwide. Blood cells from these unfortunate people serve as our most illuminating research material.

In vitro research on human blood cells, not animal experimentation, revealed the following idiosyncrasies. HIV's efficiency in humans relies on very specific and minuscule aspects of human white blood cells called helper T-cells. These cells have portals on their surface called receptors. These receptors work in tandem with precise proteins to invite HIV into the white blood cell where the virus then reproduces. Receptors can be very species-specific and sometimes vary even within species, which explains why chimpanzees and even some people whose helper T-cells are exposed to HIV never progress to AIDS.

HIV-infected humans who do not progress to AIDS offer very good insights into possible ways of countermanding the disease. Their identity is epidemiologically derived, and in vitro research has isolated the human gene believed responsible for their immunity. The sequencing of the HIV genome was also accomplished via in vitro research. The animal experimentation community claims that AZT and other anti-AIDS medications were developed as a result of animal experiments. However, a look at the history of these drugs' development proves the contrary. All this human data has reliably informed the development of HIV medications and the effort to produce a vaccine.

AIDS kills at the cellular level in humans, and that is where it needs to be studied. According to one scientist, we will only know which animal model is useful after "we understand the pathogenesis of AIDS, and when we have the vaccines and therapies to prevent it." Why would we need the animal model if we already have the cure?

Go on to American Experimentation - Frequently Asked Questions: How will we ever cure cancer without animals?

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