Ohio: Microbicides Could Reduce AIDS Transmission to Women
May 16, 2005
The Washington, D.C.-based Global Campaign for Microbicides (GCM), which builds awareness and political support for microbicide research, launched a Cleveland chapter -- its ninth in the United States -- with a forum at Case Western Reserve University. AIDS activists and researchers attended the forum, which featured the Cleveland-area premiere of "In Women's Hands: A Film on Women, HIV and Hope," focusing on women in the developing world.
GCM is lobbying for a Senate bill that would create a separate center for microbicide research within the National Institutes of Health and boost public spending for this research. Currently, only about 2 percent of the NIH AIDS budget is devoted to microbicides. Ideally, women could topically apply such a product before intercourse to prevent transmission of HIV and other STDs.
About 50 microbicides are in the drug development pipeline, with five in advanced phases of clinical trials, according to GCM's Bindiya Patel. Case's Center for AIDS Research has developed a novel protein that blocked HIV transmission in macaques, and scientists hope eventually to test the compound on humans.
According to Patel, more than half of new HIV infections in the developing world occur in women, the majority of whom were infected by their husbands. In 2003, 58 percent of the 26.6 million people with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa were women.
Earl Pike, executive director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, said a number of microbicides are also being tested for rectal use. "So there is significant hope that whatever application can be found for vaginal microbicides can also reduce HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men during anal intercourse," Pike said.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
05.11.05; Regina McEnery