Ford Foundation Report Examines Search for Microbicides To Prevent HIV Infection Among Women
The Ford Foundation Report, the foundation's quarterly magazine, in its Summer 2004 issue examines the use of microbicides as a method to give women the "power to protect themselves" from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (Mayers, Ford Foundation Report, Summer 2004). Microbicides include a range of products such as gels, films, sponges and other products that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other STDs. Although HIV is transmitted primarily through heterosexual intercourse in much of Africa and Asia, no female-controlled HIV prevention method currently is widely available. An effective microbicide would be important for women in resource-poor countries whose partners refuse to use condoms (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/16). Currently, 62 microbicide products are in development worldwide. Microbicides, which ideally will be available in contraceptive and non-contraceptive forms, have the "added benefit of giving women the power to protect themselves without requiring their partner's knowledge or acquiescence" because they are undetectable, according to the FFR. Although microbicides may have "limited effectiveness" -- the first available products are expected to have an efficacy of about 40% to 60% -- they are "more promising than anything offered to date to limit the spread of HIV in the developing world," according to the FFR. However, microbicides will not be publicly available for at least five years, largely because the pharmaceutical industry will not invest in their development until one product has "blazed the trail through the regulatory process," according to the FFR (Ford Foundation Report, Summer 2004).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.