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Carraguard does not prevent vaginal HIV transmission

Carraguard is not effective in preventing vaginal transmission of HIV.

A carrageenan-based compound, Carraguard, is not effective in preventing vaginal transmission of HIV, researchers report in the Dec. 6 issue of The Lancet.

Stephanie Skoler-Karpoff, of the Population Council in New York City, which developed Carraguard and sponsored the study, conducted a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of 6,202 sexually active South African women aged 16 and above, of whom 3,103 were randomized to receive Carraguard and 3,099 received placebo. The subjects were to use one applicator of gel together with a condom each time they had vaginal sex.

During 2 years of follow-up, the women were tested for HIV as well as other sexually transmitted and vaginal infections, and were counseled in risk reduction. Both groups reported high rates of gel use-96.2% for the Carraguard group and 95.9% for the placebo group-and condom use was 64.1% for both groups, the researchers report. In the Carraguard group, the incidence of HIV was 3.3 per 100 woman-years, versus 3.8 per 100 woman-years for the placebo group, and time to seroconversion was similar in both groups, the report indicates.

Skoler-Karpoff S, Ramjee G, Ahmed K, et al. Efficacy of Carraguard for prevention of HIV infection in women in South Africa: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2008;372:1977–1987. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61842-5.