Experimental Vaginal Gel Partially Effective Against HIV

Ada Ngoh
Posted July 21, 2010 from Cameroon

Vienna, Austria - Researchers say an experimental vaginal gel has significantly cut the number of women contracting HIV from infected partners. The results of the study conducted in South Africa were presented July 21, during an International AIDS Conference in Vienna. This is the first time vaginal gels or microbicides have shown any effectiveness in reducing the risk of HIV transmission.

“It is remarkable”, said the Director of the UN’s agency on AIDS, Michel Sidibe. “It’s the first time in the fight against HIV/AIDS in thirty years that we have a prevention tool that can be initiated and controlled by women.” The microbicide gel that contains an antiretroviral drug called tenofovir, reduced the infection rate by 39 percent in women who used the product for over two years.

New HIV prevention methods are badly needed, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where 60 percent of people living with HIV are women. In the coming months, there will be a meeting of experts in South Africa to determine what to do with the results of this study.

The Study

The study was conducted among 889 randomly selected women in South Africa, by the Centre for AIDS Research in South Africa, CAPRISA. These women were separated in two groups; one group was give the tenofovir gel while the other group got a placebo (a control gel which did not contain tenofovir). The results of the trial showed that there were 39percent fewer HIV infections in the group that received tenofovir gel than in the group that got the placebo.The gel was also found to be both safe and acceptable when used once in the 12 hours before sex and once in the 12 hours after sex by women aged 18 to 40 years.

What Next?

This study has proven that antiretroviral drugs can be used in a vaginal gel to reduced the risk of HIV transmission in women.However, this in no way means that a product based on the results of this study will be available on pharmacy shelves any time soon. The results generated by the CAPRISA study are still being analysed it may take years to develop a product that can be licensed by a drug regulatory agency.

A nongovernmental organisation called OXFAM, that has also been very active at the AIDS 2010 conference in Vienna has said until a highly effective microbicide is available and affordable to women all over the world, governments and charities should encourage female condoms.

Female Condoms as an Alternative

Female condoms are the only HIV prevention option women have, but they are not available, on a large scale, to the general public. It is expensive and OXFAM says only about one in three hundred women have access to it. OXFAM representative Monique Demenint says “there is much research being done in microbicides but there is not yet an effective microbicide on the market. Female condoms are on the market and it is very important to get them out there to women so they can use them.”

Comments 3

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  • Muriel Kenniston
    Jul 22, 2010
    Jul 22, 2010

    This is an amazing step towards the prevention of AIDS. The research seems to show a very positive outlook that could end up making a drastic impact on the lives of women and young girls in many areas of Africa. This is great!!

  • Ada Ngoh
    Jul 23, 2010
    Jul 23, 2010

    So many women are put at risk when their partners refuse to use condoms. If this product is finally put on the market, women will have an option to protect themselves. It is truly good news.

  • Olutosin
    Jul 23, 2010
    Jul 23, 2010

    Good post friend, I just pray that this works out for us, I saw it last year and I just pray instantly that is works although I have discovered that many women i showed were not interested and I read sometime last month that there was a new one with teeth, this is part of the liberation we are talking about...if women could have a say in their sexuality huh