Tests of New AIDS Gel Show Promise for Women
February 25, 2008
An experimental vaginal microbicide gel containing the AIDS drug tenofovir has proven safe and acceptable to women in Phase II trials, researchers told the Microbicides 2008 Conference in New Delhi on Monday.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study involved 200 sexually active HIV-negative women in the United States and India. The study was designed to evaluate the gels safety, not its efficacy.
The gel is safe to use and well-tolerated by HIV-negative women, said Dr. Craig Hoesley of the University of Alabama-Birmingham. This sets the stage for larger studies to see if tenofovir can prevent HIV infection.
It is still uncertain how long tenofovir can stay active after it is applied as a vaginal microbicide, said lead investigator Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Currently, there are very encouraging studies suggesting that even when tenofovir is gone from the vagina, the drug itself is there in the vaginal tissue, she said.
The important thing we learned is that covert use, or secret use, is not an important parameter for women, and that in fact we found that 12 percent of the women who used the gel said it made sex more pleasurable and none of the women said that the gel made sex less pleasurable, said Hillier.
Among participants using the gel, 80 percent followed the experimental regimen.
We asked women How acceptable is this as a prevention option, is it too messy, is it a nuisance, and will you use it? Hoesley said. Our study showed they will use it and theyre not bothered by the gel.
It is a critical time for all of us engaged in HIV prevention, and I truly believe we are turning a corner, Hillier said.