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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 be additional prevention tools for women and men at risk of HIV around the world. Today, daily oral PrEP is the only prevention tool that women can use to reduce risk of HIV that does not require partner negotiation at or around the time of sex. Access to this strategy is limited and expanding slowly. But more options are needed. Simple, easy-to-use vaginal microbicides would fill an important HIV prevention need.

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 by exploring the feasibility, acceptability and impact of introducing new tools like oral PrEP and developing combination prevention platforms where new products can be easily introduced.

Results from two Phase III multi-country trials (ASPIRE and Ring) studying the 4-week slow-release dapivirine vaginal ring were released at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infection. Click here for press releases, background information and other useful resources about the Ring and ASPIRE studies.

What We're Reading

At AIDS2016, we heard about some vaginal bacteria that may be eating tenofovir and another that may enhance vaginal protection – but there is more to the story on the research in the vaginal microbiome and what we do and don’t know. Check out this story by PBS that describes some of this research and the what else is being planned to better understand good and the bad bacteria and how to leverage them for HIV prevention.

August 19, 2016
PBS NewsHour reports on next steps for ASPIRE, in particular the rationale for an NIH-funded open-label extension trial known as HOPE.

March 25, 2016
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