European Union Awards $13.7M for New Microbicide Development
March 24, 2004
The European Union has awarded $13.7 million to an international consortium of universities, research institutes and biotechnology companies to develop new microbicides that could prevent HIV transmission, London's Guardian reports (Jha, Guardian, 3/22). Microbicides include a range of products such as gels, films, sponges and other products that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Although HIV is transmitted primarily through heterosexual intercourse in much of Africa and Asia, no female-controlled HIV prevention method currently is widely available (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/21/03). Charles Kelly, an immunologist at King's College-London, and Robin Shattock, an infectious diseases researcher at St. George's Hospital in London, who are serving as joint coordinators of the microbicide project, said that the E.U. grant -- the largest ever commitment of funds for microbicide work -- represents a "sea change" in the research, which has not gotten the attention of major pharmaceutical companies but could prevent millions of people from being infected with HIV, according to the Guardian. Research conducted at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has shown that an effective microbicide could have an "enormous impact" on preventing HIV transmission, the Guardian reports. According to the research, a microbicide that is 60% effective could prevent 2.5 million HIV infections worldwide if 20% of the individuals with access to the microbicide used it half of the time they had sex without using a condom, according to the Guardian (Guardian, 3/22).
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