Previously published in Examiner
Scientists presented the findings for a vaginal treatment that would protect against HIV infection. Their research is based on a study done when South African women volunteers tried out this new gel and reduced their risk of contracting aids by 50 percent during the first year of the study and by 39 percent after 2 and a half years into the study.
At the same time, the researchers found that the risk for contracting genital herpes (HSV-2) was also reduced by 50 percent.
The executive director of the World Health Organization’s UNAIDS program, Michael Sidibe saysthis new gel gives hope to women and also has the potential to curb the AIDS epidemic. Executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, Mitchell Warren, hails it a “historic day for HIV prevention research.” He congratulates everyone involved with the research including the “nearly 900 South African women whose altruism and commitment as trial volunteers made this effort possible.”
The gel itself is spiked with the antiretroviral AIDS prevention drug tenofovir. It has no colour or smell. It is inserted into the vagina with an applicator, similar to a tampon applicator, before and after intercourse. A survey taken among the participants revealed a whooping 99 percent of these women said that they would use the gel as directed if they knew for sure it would prevent the spread of AIDS.
According to the researchers, the cost to produce the microbicide for the gel is inexpensive and the gel would only cost pennies. Also, the applicator is very cheap (32 cents), so that is plus for even the poorest of women in these African Nations.
So far the only side effects which has been observed is mild diarrhea. It has taken 20 years of research to perfect this gel.
Once the testing has been completed this breakthrough drug will help millions of women in third world countries. More than half of the women in sub-Saharan Africa are infected. Another larger study of 5,000 women is now going on in several countries including Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.
Montrealers can be tested for HIV/AIDS free of charge at any hospital or CLSC
The Farha Foundation leading foundation for HIV/AIDS in Montreal’s
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