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Geneva, Switzerland, WHO, 1993 Nov 16. 2 p. (Press Release WHO/90)In a World Health Organization (WHO) Global Program on AIDS (GPA) meeting held November 11-13, 1993, it was decided to launch a research effort to develop a safe antimicrobial agent capable of inactivating HIV in a woman's vagina. The ideal microbicide will be in the form of a foam or gel to be applied in the vagina; will prevent HIV from attaching itself to the lining of the vagina; will protect against other sexually transmitted diseases; and will not impair fertility. While many existing contraceptive spermicides have been shown to confer protection against HIV in the test tube, no evidence exists to show that they protect against HIV in actual sexual intercourse. Some studies have even suggested that their use may damage the vagina and increase the risk of HIV transmission, especially when used frequently and in high doses. Even though condom use and safer sex practices are widely promoted along with steps to control other sexually transmitted diseases, these measures are inadequate against the transmission of HIV. Where the male-female transmission of HIV is concerned, the Executive Director of the WHO/GPA argues that a safe, effective microbicide is needed for women to use especially when they may be at a loss to negotiate partners' condom use. Further information on coordination efforts may be obtained by contacting the WHO GPA Public Information Officer in Geneva.