Effective Microbicide Could Be Available by 2010, Researchers Say
An effective microbicide could be available by 2010 if ongoing trials currently underway prove successful, researchers said Sunday ahead of the Microbicides 2006 Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, the AP/Yahoo! News reports (Nullis, AP/Yahoo! News, 4/23). The conference, which more than 1,000 scientists are attending, aims to review progress in producing microbicides, which have been in development for 15 years (Plaut, BBC News, 4/23). Microbicides include a range of products -- such as gels, films and sponges -- that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/23). According to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a microbicide that is 60% effective against HIV and used by 20% of women in 73 developing countries could prevent 2.5 million infections over three years (AP/Yahoo! News, 4/23). Gita Ramjee, director of the HIV prevention research unit at South Africa's Medical Research Council, said results from five clinical trials involving thousands of people worldwide should be ready by 2008, and if governments accelerate the approval process, a microbicide could be available by 2010 at the earliest (AP/Yahoo! News, 4/23). Graca Machel, women's rights advocate and wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, called for a boost in the development of a microbicide. "I understand the limitations of science, but we simply have to find ways to do this faster," Machel said. She also called for microbicide research and development funding to be doubled to $280 million annually over the next five years, saying that any risks drug companies might face in investing in such research would be covered by sales from people in developed countries. At the opening of the conference on Sunday, members of the South African HIV/AIDS treatment advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign delivered a memorandum to conference delegates calling for international organizations and drug companies to increase their investments in microbicide development and commit to making them accessible and available to all who need them (SAPA/iAfrica.com, 4/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.