Human trials of HIV microbicides announced
March 27 2004 1:00 AM ET
Large-scale trials are planned to determine if two new microbicides will protect men and women from HIV infection, U.K. scientists announced ahead of an international microbicide conference in London March 28-31. "We desperately need new methods to prevent HIV transmission in the face of rising prevalence of infection globally," said Prof. Jonathan Weber of the Imperial College of London. Microbicides would allow a woman to protect herself even if her male partner does not use a condom, and they could also protect against other sexually transmitted diseases.
"We need a product that women and men find culturally and personally acceptable as well as free or at very low cost," said Robin Gorna of the U.K. Department for International Development. Of 60 microbicides being developed worldwide, 14 are in clinical trials. Britain's Microbicide Development program, backed by DFID, aims to test Pro-2000 and Emmelle among some 12,000 African women. AIDS experts say microbicides applied before sex would be most effective when used along with other HIV prevention methods. Even a partially effective microbicide could prevent 2.5 million AIDS deaths over three years, experts estimate.