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HIV prevention is about having options. Microbicides must be among them.

The term “microbicide” refers to substances being studied that could be used in the vagina and/or rectum to reduce the risk of HIV infection via sexual exposure. There are no licensed microbicides available today. Vaginal and rectal microbicides could help address some of HIV prevention’s greatest unmet needs. Millions of women and men today lack the power to insist that their sexual partners use condoms or other available prevention strategies. Simple, easy-to-use microbicides would help these individuals take control of their own health – while offering people everywhere an additional, needed option.

While no microbicide is commercially available, clinical trials could lead to licensing of the first products within this decade. To ensure that people can benefit quickly, the foundation for rollout must be laid now. Just as importantly, prevention researchers and planners need to make sure that every product—and every prevention program—truly meets the needs of women and men they aim to benefit.

What We're Reading

The final published paper on the VOICE trial in women in three African countries mainly reinforces what conference presentations have already shown: this ambitious trial failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of either oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or of a tenofovir-containing vaginal microbicide gel, and the reason for this was that only 25-30% of women actually used the study product, despite 88% claiming they used it.

February 9, 2015
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