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U.N. official expects HIV microbicide in three to four years

U.N. official expects HIV microbicide in three to four years

Peter Piot, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, predicted Thursday that a gel that protects against HIV transmission during intercourse could be ready in as little as three to four years. With the successful development of a vaccine still nowhere in sight, Piot said a gel designed to thwart the transmission of HIV during sex would be the next best thing. "Where we have better hope is something at least as important, and that is a so-called microbicide," Piot said, adding there were currently about 15 HIV microbicide products being tested around the world. "Conceptually, it's straightforward, whereas with the vaccine we still don't know where to go. We are, in the most optimistic scenario, I would say three years, four years away. Currently we are dealing with trials that deal with thousands and thousands of women." The microbicide would come in the form of a gel or an ovule that's placed in the vagina before intercourse and immediately kills the virus upon contact. While most microbicide products are being studied in women because of the desperate need for an HIV prevention tool for women in developing nations, some also are being studied for use in protecting against HIV infections through anal sex. Those studies are much further behind the vaginal microbicide research. (AP, with additional reporting by

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