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Marvellous microbicides. Intravaginal gels could save millions of lives, but first someone has to prove that they work.
Lancet. 2004 Mar 27; 363(9414):1042-1043.Preventing AIDS is theoretically simple: encourage mutual monogamy or consistent condom use. But experts warn that if responsibility for protection stays with men, these interventions will produce only small gains in the fight against AIDS. The majority of women in some parts of sub-Sarahan Africa are in immediate danger of contracting HIV. But these women are powerless to protect themselves because most are dependent on men for economic security, and are often unable to negotiate safe sex. If a method of HIV prevention were available that women could administer themselves, the situation could rapidly become very different. Alan Stone, chairman of the International Working Group on Microbicides believes that microbicides —topical agents that stop the HIV virus being transmitted during intercourse— are the only realistic option. “There is absolutely nothing else on the horizon that could make a large-scale impact”, he says. (excerpt)