Vaginal gel 'can cut HIV risk by 39pct in women'

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Washington, July 20 (ANI): Using a vaginal microbicide gel with an antiretroviral (ARV) drug called tenofovir before and after sex can reduce HIV risk by 39 percent in women, says a new study, known as CAPRISA 004.

Researchers found that the gel was significantly more protective against HIV infection than a placebo gel among women at high risk of HIV.

CAPRISA 004 involved 889 women from Durban and a nearby rural community in South Africa, where women are at especially high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual intercourse.

At the end of the study, there were 39 percent fewer HIV infections among women who used tenofovir gel before and after sex than among those who used the placebo gel.

The study was conducted by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).

"This study has established proof of concept that a vaginal microbicide containing an ARV can protect women from HIV," said Dr. Sharon Hillier at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and principal investigator of the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN).

"This is an incredibly important achievement for which the CAPRISA team is to be congratulated. For all of us in the HIV prevention field, this result has shown that it may be possible to leverage this initial success using a single ARV at the time of sex into more potent approaches that could be 50, 60 or even 70 percent effective for prevention of HIV. The results of this study have reinvigorated the field," she added.

The MTN currently is conducting another study called VOICE - Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic - that will provide evidence about the safety and efficacy of tenofovir gel used daily, regardless of when participants have sex.

The findings of the study were reported at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) in Vienna and published online by the journal Science. (ANI)

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