Science magazine has today joined the campaign on the Tripoli Six. Great to see the world’s two largest science magazines brothers in arms on this case. The full letter is available here.
Scientists Call for Release of Healthcare Workers in Libya Wrongly Accused of Intentionally Infecting Children with HIV.
Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor have been incarcerated in a Libyan prison for nearly eight years, charged with intentionally infecting approximately 400 children with HIV. In a letter to Science, appearing online in the 26 October 2006 Science Express, an international group of 44 researchers explains that the scientific evidence shows that the virus was present in the hospital before the accused workers arrived and that the most reasonable explanation for the outbreak is poor infection control practices, including the lack of sterile, disposable injecting equipment.
The Libyan court has excluded expert testimony from independent scientists, while relying instead on confessions extracted under torture and making threats of execution for any noncooperation by the accused. In their letter, Sunil K. Ahuja and coauthors request that their governments reach out to the Libyan people and their political leadership to find a way to release the imprisoned healthcare workers, provide the means to look after the HIV-infected children, and help with all efforts to detect, treat and prevent HIV infections within Libya. What has happened to the accused sends a chilling message to all healthcare workers who choose to work in difficult circumstances to deliver life-saving care to HIV-1-infected or at-risk people worldwide, the authors write.