Addressing the four-day biannual International Microbicides 2008 Conference here on Feb 24, the minister congratulated the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for organising the international event. It is for the first time that the meeting is being held in the Asian region. More than 1,100 delegates comprising researchers, public health workers, communities and advocacy organisations have gathered together to discuss current research and development of an effective microbicide. Microbicides are a range of different products that have the ability to prevent sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections when applied topically. Research is on a variety of microbicides which could be delivered in many forms: gels, creams, suppositories, films, sponge or ring.
Eminent medical scientist Dr N K Ganguly, former Director-General, ICMR, is chairing the international scientific advisory panel while Union Health Secretary Naresh Dayal, will chair the national organising committee. There will be four simultaneous tracks -- basic science, clinical, social science and community and advocacy under eminent chairpersons. The conference has nine plenary sessions, and presentations of 553 original researches (oral, posters, books) as also cross track sessions and round table discussion sessions including poster sessions and exhibitions.
The biannual meet has become an important fixture for the international scientific community in the fight against HIV/AIDS which continues to spread at an alarming rate especially among women in developing countries. India has an estimated 2.5 million HIV cases. The prevalence rate of HIV among the 15-49 years age group is 0.9 per cent and there is an urgent need to have HIV prevention technologies which are women initiated.