Gates Foundation to fund diaphragm, microbicide, circumcision studies

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 05 2002 12:00 AM ET

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced $46 million in grants to support studies on the use of diaphragms, microbicides, and adult male circumcision as means to prevent HIV infection.

University of California researchers will receive $28 million to study diaphragm use as a way to protect women from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. "A positive outcome from this study could rapidly put an urgently needed female-controlled HIV prevention technology into the hands of women throughout the world," said Nancy Padian, director of the university's Women's Global Health Imperative. More than 4,500 women in Zimbabwe and South Africa will be studied for four years.

The Contraceptive Research and Development Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School will receive $11.9 million to study several microbicides currently in development or animal testing as a means to prevent HIV infection linked to sexual exposure to virus.

And $5.8 million will go to support an ongoing Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study in Uganda that to date has shown that circumcision--particularly, circumcision of adult males--reduces HIV infection rates among the men and subsequently among their sex partners. AIDS experts say uncircumcised men are at a higher risk for HIV infection because some foreskin cells appear to be extremely susceptible to infection and because bodily fluids can be easily trapped underneath the foreskin and placed in prolonged contact with these susceptible tissues.