United States Should Increase Funding for Microbicide Research, Editorial Says
The United States should "boost its commitment" to research into an effective microbicide, which "could very well become the next best thing to a vaccine" for HIV, a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial says. Although the NIH budget for HIV/AIDS vaccine research is more than $500 million in fiscal year 2005, the amount allocated for microbicide development "languishes at just $68 million" for FY 2004, the editorial says (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/25). 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 sexually transmitted diseases. An effective microbicide would kill HIV in semen, block the virus from attaching to a target cell or prevent HIV from multiplying if the virus enters a target cell (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/24). An effective microbicide "may not count as a silver bullet, but it certainly qualifies as a sterling shield" because it could "dramatically curb transmission [of HIV] - especially among the young, married women who now make up the group most susceptible to HIV infections," the editorial says. President Bush's "touted 'ABC' policy" -- which stands for Abstinence, Be faithful and use Condoms -- is "just plain useless for faithful but powerless women with cavorting husbands," the Star Tribune says, adding that a microbicide, which women could use without their partners' knowledge, "could enable such women to take charge of their health without risking spousal wrath." According to some scientists, the research and design of an effective microbicide will cost "at least $100 million annually for the next seven to 10 years," the editorial says, concluding, "It's a goal well worth the effort -- and whatever cash is required" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 9/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.