VIENNA, July 19 (UPI) — A gel with an anti-retroviral drug used to treat HIV was effective in reducing a woman’s risk of HIV and genital herpes, researchers from South Africa said.
Co-principal investigator Dr. Quarraisha Abdool Karim of the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa and Columbia University in New York says the microbicide, which contains 1 percent tenofovir — a common component of the three-drug cocktail used to treat HIV — was found to be 39 percent effective in reducing a woman’s risk of HIV during sex and 51 percent effective in preventing genital herpes.
“Tenofovir gel could fill an important HIV prevention gap by empowering women who are unable to successfully negotiate mutual faithfulness or condom use with their male partners,” Karim says in a statement. “This new technology has the potential to alter the course of the HIV epidemic.”
The trial involved 889 women at high risk of HIV infection in South Africa and by the trial’s end 98 women became HIV positive during the trial — 38 in the tenofovir gel group and 60 in the placebo gel group.
Out of the 434 women who tested negative for herpes at the start of the trial, 29 became infected in the tenofovir group and 58 became infected in the placebo group.
The findings were presented at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna.
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