Microbicides are intended to serve as a preventative option for sexually transmitted infections for women who are unable to reason their partners to the use of condoms or mutual monogamy. Researchers are working with manufacturers to develop microbicides in the form of suppositories, gels, films, creams or as sponges or rings that release active preventative ingredients over time in the same way as certain birth control products, which allows for a preventative option that can be controlled by a woman, independent of her partner. Though this product is still in the developing stages and not yet ready for public use, the idea of a microbicide has tremendous potential, as researchers forecast that microbicides are to be the greatest innovation in reproductive health since the Pill.
The results of a recent study conducted by the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) have made a breakthrough for AIDs and HIV research, in a vaginal microbicide that was shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by thirty-nine percent. This vaginal microbicide was distributed in the form of a gel containing tenofovir to several South African women, while several other South African received a placebo gel. The study was conducted from a minimum of one year to a maximum of two years, and concluded that the use of this gel not only reduced HIV infections during sex by thirty nine percent, it additionally reduced the occurrence of herpes infections by fifty-one percent.
These positive study results mark a new era in HIV and AIDs prevention, especially for women in difficult circumstances who do not have the social or economic power to invest in other preventative options. As researchers continue to explore the options surrounding microbicides, including a microbicide that prevents pregnancy as well as protecting against HIV infection, North American consumers can expect to see microbicides on the market any time from five to seven years from now.
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