"AIDS Breakthrough Hailed” - Letter to the Editor

20 December 2018

 To the Editor

Your article entitled “AIDS Breakthrough Hailed” in the Daily News on 30 November 2018 contains several inaccuracies.

Firstly, there is no “breakthrough” as the implant studies in people have not even begun yet!  I did not mention any “breakthrough” in the interview with the Daily News reporter. Animal studies of the implant are promising but many drugs that work in animals do NOT work in humans.

Secondly, the headline says that the research was “hailed” even though the quote by Mr Mdletshe in the article does not “hail” the research.  In anycase, it would be difficult to hail research that has not been conducted yet.

Thirdly, CAPRISA made no announcement as claimed in the first sentence of the article. I simply described some of the upcoming CAPRISA studies, in response to questions from the Daily News Reporter.

Finally, the article has several errors which fact-checking could have prevented:

  1. “Elafenamide” starts with an “A” and not an “E”. 
  2. The abbreviation for tenofovir alafenamide is TAF – not taff.
  3. I am the Director of CAPRISA and am not “of the CAPRISA Scientific Advisory Board”, as claimed in the article.
  4. Missing text in a sentence, “Karim said that this would be effective in young women…” is missing some words. It should read, “Karim said that this would now be tested in humans to assess If it is effective in young women….”


The Daily News is usually an accurate and credible source of information on HIV/AIDS. CAPRISA appreciates your newspapers important role in keeping the public well informed on new developments in AIDS. With regard to the tenofovir alafenamide implant: CAPRISA has partnered with several organisations to conduct a human study (CAPRISA 018) to assess if the TAF implant is safe and effective. This study is scheduled to begin in 2019 and results are expected in 2022.


Professor Salim S. Abdool Karim, Director of CAPRISA.