Researchers Examine Diaphragm For Use As HIV Prevention Method
Some researchers and advocates are working to encourage women in developing nations to use diaphragms with a "powerful microbicide" gel to protect themselves from HIV infection, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Proponents say that diaphragms could hold disease-killing microbicides near the cervix, a "newly discovered 'hot spot'" for HIV infection, according to the Mercury News. Dr. Tsungai Chipato, a researcher at the University of Zimbabwe, said that diaphragms are a good solution for women who cannot "negotiate condom use," adding, "We desperately need effectiveness trials. Can diaphragms be simplified? Could there be a single size for all women? Could they be available over the counter? This is the same method as 60 years ago and there's been little change." However, other researchers point out that "few reliable studies" show the effectiveness of diaphragms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and no microbicide -- a key to HIV prevention in this case -- has yet to be approved for this purpose, the Mercury News reports. "We're in a data-free zone. We have a lot of ideas but we don't have the evidence. We have to be real careful about offering up something that isn't proven, because people will stop using something -- condoms -- that is proven," Jeff Spieler, an AIDS and population research official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, said (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 12/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.