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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Nigerian States Halt Polio Campaign over AIDS Fears

October 29, 2003
Reuters (10.27.03) - Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Three mainly Muslim states in northern Nigeria have suspended a World Health Organization-led polio immunization program because they feared it spread AIDS and caused infertility, Nigerian officials said Monday. Chinwere Chukwuani, a director at Nigeria's National Polio Immunization Office, said the suspension could cause further spread of polio in Nigeria, which already has the highest number of cases in the world and is one of only seven countries where polio is still prevalent. In Geneva, WHO said there was no question about the purity or safety of the vaccine and warned that Nigeria was exporting polio to neighboring countries. The three states follow Sharia Law, a code of Islamic law whose 2000 introduction in northern Nigeria led to sectarian riots and polarized the country. Dr. Datti Ahmed, president of Nigeria's Supreme Council for Sharia Law, said the vaccine "can give the AIDS virus and that it contains contaminants that are likely to cause cancer in the human body." WHO's Dr. David Heymann said, "We are 100 percent certain that the vaccine is pure and cannot cause any of the problems being imputed to it."