PBS’ ‘HealthWeek’ Profiles Microbicide as Women’s Tool for Preventing HIV/AIDS
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole, who appeared on PBS' Sept. 14 " HealthWeek," has teamed up with the American Foundation for AIDS Research to use his firm's "advertising savvy" to draw attention to women and HIV/AIDS and efforts to develop a microbicide to protect women from the virus. Cole said, "Women are unequal when it comes to AIDS protection. ... [They] are four times more likely to contract HIV from their partner than a man is." To "communicate this reality," Cole has helped create billboards that raise awareness about microbicides, products "intended to block or disable organisms that cause AIDS or other STDs." One advantage of microbicides is that "women won't have to ask a man to wear a condom. They can decide to use a microbicide all by themselves," Dr. Polly Harrison, head of the Alliance for Microbicide Development, who also appeared on the show, said. Although researchers have worked on microbicides for 10 years and there are almost 60 products at various stages of development, none are close to being approved for marketing. Progress has "mov[ed] slowly," as developing effective microbicides is difficult and funding is lacking. Harrison explained that large drug companies have not invested widely in microbicides because they do not view the product as "profitable," as women in the developing world would benefit the most from such technology. As a result of limited private funding, U.S. Rep. Connie Morella (D-Md.) has sought federal funding of $500 million over the next five years for microbicide research, "HealthWeek" reports (Attkisson, "HealthWeek," PBS, 9/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.