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Vaginal Gel Cuts Risk of HIV Infection, Study Shows
Date:7/20/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- A vaginal gel applied consistently before and after sex reduced the risk of HIV infection by more than half, according to a study presented Monday at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

The gel contains tenofovir (Viread), an antiretroviral drug used to treat HIV/AIDS.

"If this was implemented and women in the general population used it in the same way as we observed in the trial, it could avert 1.3 million infections over the next 20 years," said study co-author Dr. Salim S. Abdool Karim. The report also appears in the July 20 online issue of Science.

Despite these promising results, the gel still needs to be further researched, licensed and approved and is not likely to be available to women at clinics any time within the next year or two, said Abdool Karim, who is director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and pro vice-chancellor (research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

U.S. health officials quickly applauded the findings.

"The CAPRISA microbicide trial results are an exciting step forward for HIV prevention. While these findings may need to be confirmed by other research to meet requirements for licensure by [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration] and other regulatory bodies throughout the world, they suggest that we could soon have a new method to help reduce the heavy toll of HIV among women around the world," Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a CDC statement.

"Women represent the majority of new HIV infections globally, and urgently need methods they can control to protect themselves from infection. It is also very encouraging that the study found that the microbicide significantly reduced the risk of ge
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