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International News

South Africa Eager to See Speedy Roll-Out of AIDS Gel

July 22, 2010

South Africa's health minister on Tuesday said he is very pleased with a study showing that a tenofovir-based vaginal microbicide is partially effective in preventing heterosexual women from HIV infection.

"We are very interested in it," Aaron Motsoaledi said when asked whether South Africa's government will move ahead to endorse the gel before it has been licensed. "We believe in an evidence-based approach and if scientists say this thing is going to work, then we will definitely be looking at it. So far, evidence is showing that it is very promising."

The gel reduced HIV incidence by 39 percent over 2.5 years, and by 54 percent among women with greater than 80 percent adherence to the regimen, scientists told the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

The director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, said she would work to deploy the gel if it continues to prove safe and effective in future studies. Researchers already are planning a trial involving 5,000 women in South Africa, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The South African trial was smaller, with 889 women.

Countries with the greatest need should be free to move forward and use new HIV/AIDS drug formulations without waiting for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"Judgments will have to be made by individual nations based on their need for such an approach as to how they will use the [trial] data to utilize the product," Fauci said. "And I don't necessarily think that there has to be a direct link between something that is approved by the FDA and something that [the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] will pay for."

Back to other news for July 2010

Adapted from:
07.20.2010; Kate Kelland

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
AIDS 2010: Study Finds Microbicide Containing HIV Drug Lowers Infection Risk in Women By 39%
More on HIV Politics in South Africa

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