July 20, 2010

“Gel Found to Reduce AIDS Risk in Women” – The Washington Post

The Washington Post reports on the CAPRISA 004 trial results, which showed tenofovir gel to significantly reduce a woman’s risk of contracting HIV. Overall, women who used tenofovir gel were 39% less likely to contract HIV than those who used placebo gel. Those who were most consistent in their gel use, using it at least 80% of the time, reduced their risk of contracting HIV by 54%. This news is especially exciting because it is the first time that a woman-controlled microbicide has shown efficacy in a clinical trial. Because this was a small, proof-of-concept trial, additional testing will be necessary before regulatory approval can be granted and the gel made available to the public.

To view the PDF of the article, click here.

“New Gel Cuts Risk of HIV Infection” – The Wall Street Journal

This Wall Street Journal article highlights the positive results of the CAPRISA 004 trial, which showed a 39% reduction in acquisition of HIV and a 51% reduction in acquisition of herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) in women using tenofovir gel. For the first time, a clinical trial has shown that a woman-controlled microbicide is effective. While the results of the trial were statistically significant (meaning that the effectiveness was likely due to tenofovir gel use and not due to chance) at various timepoints throughout the trial, a larger confirmatory trial is needed to secure regulatory approval for widespread public use. The tenofovir gel used in the study was relatively inexpensive at approximately 32 cents per dose. With larger scale production of the gel, the cost could be even lower, making this prevention option a viable method for women in developing countries.

To view the PDF of the article, click here.

“2 African Studies Give Women Hope in Fighting HIV” – The New York Times

The New York Times reports on two studies, the CAPRISA 004 study in South Africa that tested the effectiveness of tenofovir gel for HIV prevention and a study in Malawi that tested the effectiveness of cash payments in reducing HIV infection rates in schoolgirls.

These two trials showed efficacy in reducing HIV acquisition rates in women and girls, with CAPRISA 004 showing women who used tenofovir gel to be 39% less likely to acquire HIV; women who were more consistent in their tenofovir gel use (using it at least 80% of the time) were 54% less likely to acquire HIV. CAPRISA 004 was a small trial, representing a first step in the process toward regulatory approval and widespread availability of tenofovir gel; confirmatory studies are needed. The cost of each tenofovir gel application could potentially be less than 25 cents.

The Malawi trial showed small monthly cash payments helped girls delay sexual intercourse and have fewer encounters and fewer partners when they did become sexually active. After one and a half years in the program, girls who received the cash payments were less than half as likely to have HIV or HSV compared to girls who did not receive cash payments.

To view the PDF of the article, click here.

“A Promising Preventive” – New York Times Editorial

The presentation of the results of the CAPRISA 004 trial showing tenofovir gel to be approximately 40% effective in protecting women from HIV was met with enthusiastic applause at the 2010 AIDS Conference in Vienna. After many years of research and clinical trials, women finally have a method to protect themselves from HIV that does not require male cooperation. The implications of this trial are enormous as women make up approximately 50% of the 33 million people worldwide living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, most HIV transmission occurs through heterosexual intercourse and women account for 60% of new HIV cases. Thus, a gel with even partial effectiveness could have an enormous impact in slowing the spread of HIV. Confirmation of these results is still needed, but the initial results have given the world hope that progress is being made in the fight against HIV.

To view the PDF of the editorial, click here.

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