HIV/Aids researchers celebrated a major milestone this week as a microbicide gel for women was found to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 30 per cent.
Though falling short of the 33 per cent needed for the microbicide gel, known as PRO 2000, to be regarded a scientific success; researchers believe the results mark a significant achievement as this is the first human clinical study to suggest that a microbicide gel could prevent male-tofemale sexual transmission of HIV infection.
A global network of research institutions were involved in the Phase II clinical study, including South Africa’s HIV Prevention Research Unit at the Medical Research Council. Commenting on the results of the study, Director of the Unit Professor Gita Ramjee said, “For the first time in the history of microbicide research, the concept of microbicides as an HIV prevention tool for women seems to be a reality” “After working for over a decade in microbicide research, we are seeing a glimmer of hope of finding a safe and effective microbicide which could protect women and substantially reduce new HIV infections here in South Africa and globally.
An investigational vaginal gel intended to prevent HIV infection in women has demonstrated encouraging signs of success in a clinical trial conducted in Africa and the United States. Findings of the recently concluded study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, were presented today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Montreal. The study found the microbicide gel—known as PRO 2000 (Indevus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Lexington, Mass.)—to be safe and approximately 30 percent effective (33 per cent effectiveness would have been considered statistically significant). This is the first human clinical study to suggest that a microbicide—a gel, foam or cream intended to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections when applied topically inside the vagina or rectum—may prevent sexual transmission of HIV infection.