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Researchers: Gel Shows Promise in AIDS Fight

A South African researcher says an experimental gel is showing promise in protecting women from the AIDS virus.

Dr. Salim Abdool Karim says preliminary results show about one-third of the women who used the vaginal gel appeared to be protected.

The researcher from the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa presented the findings Monday at a conference in Montreal, Canada.

Karim said the test results are not conclusive. However, scientists say this is the first study indicating that this type of product may protect women from the AIDS virus. Similar products have failed.

Sexual gels are called microbicides. Researchers say they could be key to helping to protect women in parts of the world where their partners may refuse to use condoms.

The gel is made by the Indevus Pharmaceuticals company.

The study involved about 3,100 women. A larger study of the gel involving more than 9,000 women is now underway.

According to a United Nations report on AIDS, an estimated 33 million people were living with HIV in 2007. The U.N. says about 22 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.