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The team has completed phase one of the project, which involved establishing the administrative structure for TICIPS and conducting a small-scale clinical trial of the safety of the South African plant Sutherlandia in healthy adults. The next step will involve trying to find scientific evidence about the plant’s safety.
The outcomes of this study will define a process by which these plants can be studied and evaluated. Folk hopes that others will be able to carry on with similar studies to begin to learn and inform the public about these plants.
Some of the challenges of this project have included building trust with traditional healers, but the American team members have benefited from the deep trust that has developed between the South African colleagues and traditional healers. Folk’s team has budgeted for compensation, preferred in the form of cattle, for traditional healers.
In its second year, TICIPS has three out of four projects underway. The highest priority is a human clinical trial that will take place in a hospital outside of Durbin, South Africa.
The answer to why Sub-Saharan Africa is known is the epicenter of the AIDS pandemic is complex. But Folk states that while “we don’t know all the answers, in part the apartheid government worked to destroy the traditional culture and society of South Africa,” which clearly exacerbated the problem.