NEWS: HIV prevention products… not quite yet

microbicide gel

New research showed women who were given a microbicide gel called PRO 2000 were 30% less likely to become infected with HIV, reported National Public Radio (NPR). The gel was more effective among the more frequent users, those who used it almost every time they had sex. The study, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Montreal, Canada, gave many hope that a solution was near.

Scientists hope to use the gel in developing countries such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the largest population living with HIV and AIDS with an estimated 22 million people are infected, according to AVERT statistics. AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity based in the UK.

Unfortunately, some scientists regarded the findings as statistically insignificant. They also showed concern that scientists looking for prevention methods were using similar drugs used in HIV/AIDS treatment, that could make the different strains resistant in the long run.

Tachi Yamada, the director of global health policy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s was dismayed with the findings. Even if a cure was invented, he said women would not use the gel because the process of applying and disposing of the package would turn many women. Asking a husband to wear a condom is a taboo practice that men do not appreciate. It may in turn raise suspicions towards the wife and may end in beatings. Yamada was more accepting of the possibility of a Pre-Exposure Pill or PREP, using an anti-AIDS drug to be used once a day or once a month.   

However, Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said she spoke to the women in the recent study and that they were anxious for a cure, regardless if it were a pill or a gel, having witnessed their family members die. The notion that somehow a vaginal gel with an applicator is going to be too much trouble, just doesn’t make sense to them,” Hillier said. “They actually laughed when I asked them that.”

One serious concern is that using anti-viral drugs for resistance could create resistant variants that in the future will compromise treatment, as microbiologist John Moore at Weill Cornell Medical College points out.  

Keep on truckin’.


– JD

One Response to “NEWS: HIV prevention products… not quite yet”

  1. Philanthropists…

    […]NEWS: HIV prevention products… not quite yet «[…]…

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