HIV Prevalence Rises in Swaziland Despite Efforts To Fight Disease
Toronto's Globe and Mail on Tuesday examined the "unexpected" rise in Swaziland's estimated HIV prevalence rate from 38.6% in 2002 to 42.6% in 2004 -- the highest rate in the world -- despite "massive efforts to stop the spread of the disease." African AIDS advocates said the results of the latest HIV sentinel survey conducted in 2004 among women at prenatal clinics are "shocking and devastating," according to the Globe and Mail. Following the 2002 sentinel survey, the government "poured money" into HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, and the Global Fund To Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria has contributed about $16 million to HIV/AIDS programs in the country, the Globe and Mail reports. However, many Swazi men continue to "justify" the traditional practice of polygamy, which contributes to the spread of HIV. King Mswati III, "who holds enormous cultural influence as well as political power," has more than 12 wives, according to the Globe and Mail (Nolen , Globe and Mail, 5/24).
Toronto-Based Company Developing Vaginal Microbicide
The Globe and Mail on Tuesday also examined Toronto-based Polydex Pharmaceuticals' vaginal microbicide Ushercell, which was "almost inadvertently ... invented" after being "originally designed for use in processing instant-camera film" (Nolen , Globe and Mail, 5/24). 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. HIV is transmitted primarily through heterosexual intercourse in much of Africa and Asia, but no female-controlled HIV prevention method is widely available (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/4). The Eastern Virginia Medical School's CONRAD program plans to conduct a Phase III trial of Ushercell with almost 5,000 women in India and five African countries beginning next month (Nolen , Globe and Mail, 5/24).