Summertime, and the Research Isn't Easy
The path of true medicine never did run smooth. Biomedical HIV prevention found itself in a rocky patch this summer as researchers reported unexpected failures at two conferences (the 17th Meeting of the International Society for STD Research [ISSTDR]/10th International Union against STIs World Congress, and the 4th International AIDS Society [IAS] Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention). Trials with such promising medical strategies as herpes suppression, the cellulose sulfate microbicide and the diaphragm as an HIV barrier all produced dismaying results. And then there were yet more reports that abstinence education has no meaningful effect. Still, the circumcision results and the availability of the vaccine against HPV, which conference presentations closely associated with HIV risk, illustrate the promise of adding medical interventions to behavioral ones in the struggle to contain the HIV epidemic. Circumcision and the HPV vaccine are one-time actions, though. The problematic results have involved new prevention strategies that require daily or precoital repetition.
King K. Holmes, the director of the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STDs, remained optimistic when he considered the widening possibilities for HIV prevention. He told HHSWatch, "It would be foolish to advocate solely abstinence and fidelity. We need to take our blinders off and offer combinations, like with HIV therapy. There is HAART [highly active antiretroviral therapy]; there should also be HARP -- highly active retroviral prevention."
Back to September 2007 issue of HHS Watch
This article was provided by Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project. It is a part of the publication HHS Watch.