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Clinical trial finds microbicide promising as HIV prevention method for women
Date:3/5/2009

March 5, 2009 -- A clinical trial involving more than 3,000 women in the U.S. and southern Africa demonstrates for the first time the promise of a vaginal microbicide gel for preventing HIV infection in women. According to findings presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), one 0.5 % dose of a microbicide designed to prevent HIV from attaching to cells in the genital tract, was 30% effective. While the results are encouraging, researchers on the study, known as HPTN 035, report that additional evidence is needed to determine more definitively its effectiveness.

"These findings provide the first signal that a microbicide gel may be able to prevent women from HIV infection," says Salim S. Abdool Karim, MD, PhD, professor of clinical Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, pro vice-chancellor (research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, and director the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa, who led the multi-center study for the U.S.-based Microbicide Trials Network (MTN). "Indeed, for the millions of women at risk for HIV, especially young women in Africa, there is now a glimmer of hope. But these findings also indicate that more research is needed; we can't yet say that we have an effective microbicide."

Microbicides are substances intended to reduce or prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections when applied topically. Several candidate microbicides are being tested in clinical trials, although none is yet approved or available for use. Earlier trials have yielded disappointing results or were stopped prematurely.

Currently, women comprise half of all people worldwide living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, women represent nearly 60 % of adults living with HIV, and in several southern African countries young women are at least three times more likely to be HIV-positive than young men. In
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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