Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New gel dramatically cuts HIV infection rate in women

At the International AIDS Conference in Vienna this week, researchers unveiled the results of a two year study in South Africa on the effectiveness of a new vaginal gel containing tenofovir, an antiretroviral microbicide that slows down the growth rate of the HIV virus.

The study followed 889 sexually active female participants, half of whom received the gel containing tenofovir while the other half received a placebo. The gel was able to reduce the infection rate in women by 50% over a 12 month period. The gel can be applied up to 12 hours before intercourse and is completely unnoticeable to male partners. The gel is thus highly empowering to women, who can take charge of their sexual safety without the consent of a man. Medical professionals cheered when the results of the study were revealed last month at a medical conference in Durban, South Africa.

Although the trials have been very successful, it will be at last two more years until the gel is available for general use. When it does become available to the general public, it will be able to appeal to many Western countries as well (the gel also reduces the risk of contracting genital herpes by 51%).

-Matthew Thwaites