Anti-viral drug, a vaginal containing tenofovir is preventing HIV transmission to a larger extent. Please read the full story.
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Antiretroviral vaginal gel shows promise against HIV
A transparent antiretroviral gel could turn out to be the unexpected winner in the race to give women a means of protecting themselves against HIV. Adele Baleta reports.
The results of a phase 2b proof-of-concept study of 889 HIV-negative women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, have shown that a gel for vaginal application containing 1% of the antiretroviral drug tenofovir is safe and effective for preventing HIV. Antiretroviral drugs have been shown to effectively treat people living with HIV, and to prevent mother-to-child transmission, but this is the first time an antiretroviral gel has been shown to prevent sexually transmitted HIV.
After 2·5 years of gel use, there were 38 new infections in the treatment group, compared with 60 in the control group. Over this period, 39% of women using the gel were protected, and 54% were protected when the gel was used as prescribed—within 12 h before sex and 12 h after sex—for more than 80% of their sexual intercourse. After a year there were 50% fewer new HIV infections in those using the gel than in women using a placebo gel.
The results are good news for microbicides, which have previously shown disappointing results and faced increasing scepticism about their potential use. The results of 11 trials of six candidate microbicides over the past 15 years have been negative.
There was no evidence of any emergence of HIV-resistant strains with early, short-term, and intermittent use of the gel, and the only reported side-effect was a small increase in mild diarrhoea. Frohlich says that if confirmed, the CAPRISA trial results show that an antiretroviral-based microbicide could in time be an effective prevention strategy that can be safely used by women to prevent HIV infection.
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