News / Health

    Promising New Gel to Prevent HIV Infections in Women

    South African researchers have made a scientific breakthrough in the fight against AIDS with a vaginal gel that significantly reduces a woman's risk of being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  Experts say the gel could be a revolutionary prevention tool, empowering women to protect themselves against partners who refuse to use condoms.

    Since the AIDS epidemic began nearly 30 years ago, scientists have been searching for a vaginal microbicide that women could use to protect them from contracting HIV.

    Now South African scientists Salim and Quarraisha Abdool Karim with the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), say their clinical trials on 889 South African women show great promise.  USAID helped to fund their study.

    Quarraisha Abool Karim spoke with VOA about the findings.

    "What we found in the study was that that women who were assigned to the tenofovir gel arm had 39 percent protection against getting infected compared to the placebo group," Dr. Abdool Karim said. "Those women who used the gel more than 80 percent of the time when they had sex, as we advised them to, had 54 percent protection.  So that is quite a powerful effect."

    Dr. Abdool Karim said the studies are proof of a concept, but that more trials are needed before the gel could come to market.  But the hope is that it could be available within two to three years.

    UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe is among the AIDS activists and experts celebrating the promising news.

    "First let us say we need to celebrate," Sidibe said. "In 30 years of fighting HIV/AIDS it is the first time that we can talk about a prevention revolution."

    About 33-million people worldwide are infected with the HIV virus - about half of them are women.  In Africa, more than 60 percent of new HIV infections are acquired by women and girls.

    The new gel contains tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug that prevents HIV from growing in human cells.

    Women apply the gel up to 12 hours before sexual intercourse and a second time as soon as possible within 12 hours afterwards.  Michel Sidibe says the simplicity of the gel will be the key to its appeal and effectiveness.

    "This simplification is the revolution part," Sidibe said. "I called for a prevention revolution and I am so convinced that to fight this epidemic we need prevention, prevention and prevention."

    Dr. Abdool Karim says there is still a lot of work to be done before women around the world will have access to the gel.

    "Now we have to work on what is the next step," Dr. Abdool Karim.  "The next step is how do we get this into women's hands, what is the next set of studies we need to be doing to get us closer to that?  So until it is in women's hands our job is not done, and until we have eradicated [the] virus in this world we have lots to do."

    The South African study also found that in addition to reducing HIV infection, it also reduced the rate of infection of herpes simplex-2 by 51 percent.  Women who have the herpes virus are more than twice as likely to contract HIV.

    Health experts stress the gel is only a prevention against HIV and herpes, not a contraceptive.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora