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Microbicides, Need of the Hour, to Aid the Fight Against HIV

A UN population fund report has shown, in India, a majority of married women are subject to forced sex, and are hence vulnerable to HIV.// Therefore, there is a definite need for protective methods that are under the control of a woman, as the prevalent male-controlled methods are not even 20 percent helpful.

A new thrust to the fight against HIV/AIDS may be provided by over-the-counter microbicides, which are gels, creams, films, or suppositories, meant for women. This is a blessing for many sex workers, who despite stocking up with condoms are unable to persuade many a recalcitrant customer to use protection. This callousness is present despite the awareness about AIDS in India, which has touched the five million mark.

Sex workers have often wished for a female condom, or any protection they can control. Recently, a female condom, called Femidom, a solution from Michigan University researchers, is yet to be available in the Indian Market. Hindustan latex, who did bring a female condom into the market, did not realize huge sales, mainly because it was not possible to buy it over the counter.

Experts say, this problem can be surmounted if women are provided easy access solutions akin to sachets of shampoo, which they can simply purchase from a local store. In that respect microbicides may just be the answer. Microbicides can bring down the rate of sexually transmitted disease by 40%, if it is applied in the vagina and rectum. Nearly 91% of women, who were interviewed from a HIV hot bed, said that they would indeed be happy if microbicides were provided to them.

Microbicide research was initiated in the latter part of 1980’s. But the clinical trial for each product may take two decades to complete. However, a product developed by Population Council, a research arm of the Rockefeller Foundation, called Carraguard may be available in India by end of 2007.


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