Earlier this month researchers, from the International Partnership for Microbicides, announced the testing of a vaginal ring containing an HIV-preventing antiretroviral drug, dapivirine. With that ring, the drug is released into the vagina and the microbides are expected to kill the virus on contact. This study has already recruited close to three hundred women. However, finding out whether it would successfully prevent HIV transmission requires a larger, more expensive study that will not begin until 2011.
In the meantime, a vaginal gel containing the drug Tenofovir is being credited for providing a breakthrough in fighting of the AIDS virus. According to the study’s results, after one year of use the gel cut down a woman’s chances of becoming infected in half, 39 percent after 2.5 years. Still, the results need to be confirmed and there are questions about whether these results are enough to begin using the gel. Despite concerns, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases calls it “the first time we’ve ever seen any microbicide give a positive result that you could say was statistically significant.”
The formula for the gel will not be changed, as higher rates in usage are reportedly the key to the gel’s effectiveness. Used 60 percent of the time, women were instructed to use the gel 12 hours before and within 12 hours after intercourse.
In addition to reducing HIV infections, the gel is shown to also reduce the chances of contracting HSV-2, the herpes virus that causes genital warts.