HIV prevention gel fails to reduce risk: scientists

08:35, December 15, 2009      

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Scientists meeting here on Monday announced that the largest international clinical trial on a preventative HIV gel has found no evidence that the vaginal microbicide PRO 2000 reduces the risk of HIV infection in women.

Stephen Malinga, Uganda's Health Minister while announcing the results of the four year trial that started in September 2005, said the results end scientific speculation about the importance of the gel.

He told reporters that the placebo-controlled trial, which involved 9,385 women at six research centers in four African countries, found that the risk of HIV infection in women who were supplied with active PRO 2000 gel was not significantly lower than that of those supplied with placebo gel.

The announcement comes at the 5th Forum of African AIDS Vaccine Program which started on Sunday here, attracting over 250 researchers from 27 countries.

During the three-day meeting, under the theme "Africa needs an AIDS vaccine: Building a common platform for prevention research in Africa", participants are about to discuss progress made in developing an HIV vaccine.

According to the results, 130 new HIV infections were reported in the active group while 123 infections were found in the placebogroup.

Anatoli Kamali, who headed the research in Uganda, said that participants are now being informed of the trial outcome and full results will be submitted for presentation at international conferences in 2010, as well as published in medical journals.

He said the failure of the PRO 2000 gel does not mean the end of research on vaginal microbicides, saying other microbicides are still on trial.

"We think these are more promising than the current product that we have ended testing," he said.

Currently no microbicide has shown effective protection from HIV infection.

Africa has more than half of the world's 33 million HIV infected people.

Source: Xinhua
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