The Latest on Microbicides

With the “Microbicides 2006 Conference” having just wrapped up in Cape Town last week, the news is full of talk about these promising new technologies in the effort to halt the spread of HIV. One line of conversation is shared across almost all reports: microbicides may offer the greatest hope yet for protecting women from contracting HIV.

An article from IRIN News/AllAfrica provides more sobering commentary: not only is public sector and foundation funding most of the money involved in microbicide development, but various bureaucratic and market-derived hurdles still stand in the way of bringing effective products to the people who need them.

An article published on AIDSMap offers some hope: it discusses developments in the science of microbicides that are already beginning to take on a “next generation” look and feel. Microbicides that are currently in testing are offering disappointing results in some cases, failing to prevent HIV reliably. Similar to the way “monotherapy” drugs used to treat HIV early in the epidemic have been replaced with combinatory drugs, some scientists are finding benefits in replacing these first-round microbicides with combinations of microbicide treatments.

A “folk” solution of sorts has emerged: citrus juices. An important caution comes from a team of researches about this method though, noting that such practice can actually increase risk of HIV infection.

Excitement about the possibility of microbicides continues to build as we are beginning to see that these treatments may be just around the corner. To stay up to date on their development, visit the International Partnership for Microbicides and the Alliance for Microbicide Development.

For a full list of the speakers and participants at the Microbicides 2006 conference, including video webcasts of plenary sessions, visit Kaiser’s Healthcast website.

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