Microbicide gel holds promise for AIDS prevention

September 1, 2010

A microbicide gel may become the new tool for AIDS and herpes prevention among high-risk women, according to results of a groundbreaking study.

A microbicide gel may become the new tool for AIDS and herpes prevention among high-risk women, according to results of a groundbreaking study presented at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna in July by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.

The 1% tenofovir gel reduced HIV infections in women by 39% and genital herpes infections by 51% over 2.5 years in the double-blind study of 889 sexually active women aged 18 to 40 years in the coastal city of Durban and a remote village, Vulindlela.

A gel with an efficacy of 40% to 50% could prevent an estimated 271,000 to 602,000 new HIV infections in 10 years, according to the researchers. The gel may also protect men at risk of acquiring HIV through anal sex.

Of the women enrolled in the study, 54 became pregnant and delivered 31 babies. The miscarriage rate was normal, and none of the infants were born with any congenital defects.

The CAPRISA study was jointly funded by the United States and South African governments.

Sokal D, Karim Q, Omar Z, et al. Safety of 1% tenofovir vaginal microbicide in South African women: results of the CAPRISA 004 trial. Presented at: 18th International AIDS Conference; July 18-23 2010; Vienna, Austria. Abstract TUSS0504.

Williams BG, Abdool Karim S, Gouws E, Abdool Karim Q. Impact of tenofovir gel on the HIV epidemic in South Africa: amathematical model to estimate the effect of the CAPRISA 004 microbicide trial results. Presented at: 18th International AIDS Conference; July 18-23, 2010; Vienna, Austria. Abstract LBPE27.