Illinois: Microbicide Advocates Stress Options
April 13, 2009
Between fiscal years 1999 and 2008, the US Agency for International Development increased research and development funding for microbicides by nearly 20-fold. But while support and interest in vaginal microbicides to prevent HIV have increased, support for rectal microbicides is not as strong.
Advocates are optimistic the federal government will also support rectal microbicide research and development. "We don't have to deny behavior and pretend gay people don't exist" to get federal support any longer, or conduct rectal microbicide research quietly for fear of losing such support, Pickett said. A large proportion of rectal microbicide funding comes from the National Institutes of Health.
The University of California-Los Angeles recently conducted the first rectal microbicide safety trial, and several more Phase I safety trials are either ongoing or planned. Rectal safety trials of vaginal microbicides have also been conducted.
"They won't replace condoms," Terlikowski said. "Condoms still serve as the gold standard."
But for people who refuse to use condoms, microbicides might someday provide one more barrier to infection, Pickett said. "If you aren't using a condom, you have no protection," he said. "Wouldn't something that's even 60 percent effective be great in comparison?"
Chicago Free Press
03.26.2009; Amy Wooten