Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Communities debate microbicide results in South Africa

via PlusNews

The recent release of positive results from a microbicide trial in South Africa have kick-started discussions between scientists, activists and community workers about the quickest and most responsible way of getting a product into women's hands.

The trial by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) found that a vaginal gel containing tenofovir, an antiretroviral (ARV) drug, was 39 percent effective at reducing women's risk of contracting HIV during sex.

In other parts of the world, such results might not be cause for celebration, but in South Africa, and particularly in hard-hit KwaZulu-Natal Province, where the trial was conducted, even such partial effectiveness could prevent 1.3 million new HIV infections over the next two decades and avert over 800,000 deaths, according to mathematical modelling.

"The discomfort we all have is that if this [product] is working, shouldn't we be pushing its use as quickly as possible?" said Prof Helen Rees (pictured), director of the Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit (RHRU) of Witwatersrand University, at a meeting about the CAPRISA trial results in Johannesburg.

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