AIDS Prevention Gel Brings Joy
More than one million women die annually of AIDS, all over the world. But, there is some good news in the fight against this dreaded disease. Recently, an AIDS-prevention vaginal gel has been tested that gives women a 39 percent chance of not getting infected by the dreaded virus. This is a welcome development as previous attempts to formulate an AIDS-prevention gel had failed. About 900 African women took part in the trial, which was conducted in South Africa.
Gel can Protect Against Herpes As Well
There is an unexpected bonus as well. The gel can also protect women from contracting genital herpes. The reason may be that it contains the antiviral drug tenofovir. Both herpes and AIDS are caused by viruses.
This heartening development gives rise to a number of questions which are as follows:
Questions to Ponder About
- Does the gel need more testing before it is approved by drug regulators?
- Will the drug work better if the tenofovir content is increased in the gel (it is currently one percent)?
- Can the gel be manufactured cheaply to benefit people in poor countries?
- In the trial for the gel, women used it twice, before and after sex. Would it be cheaper and easier if only one dose is used?
- Can the gel protect prostitutes who may use it daily?
- Is the gel safe for use by pregnant women?
- Will the gel appeal to women in industrialized countries, who may be worried more about herpes rather than AIDS?
- Can the gel be used for anal sex, and to protect men who are gay?
Price Could be Negligible
Health experts say the price of one dose of the gel could be lower than a condom, as there are no patent restrictions. More trials are on the anvil, to test the safest and best dose and drug combinations. The gel has not been tested on men. American health experts opine that the gel’s ability to protect from both AIDS and herpes would appeal to American women.
Good News for Women in sub-Saharan Africa
The success of the trial is good news for women in sub-Saharan Africa, where women AIDS patients now exceed men. In sub-Saharan Africa, other methods of AIDS prevention such as monogamy, condom use and abstinence have been only partly successful in reducing the risk of infection in women. Therefore, if the gel continues to be successful in future trials, it would provide women independence in their efforts to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.