For the first time AIDS researchers have reported success with an HIV prevention tool that can be controlled by women : a vaginal gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir. Women account for nearly half of all new HIV infections every year. They rely on condoms or practice abstinence strategies that require cooperation from often unwilling partners.
In a preliminary study of 889 women in South Africa the gel which contains 1% tenofovir in an antimicrobial solution reduced HIV infection by 39% over 2. 5 years compared with a placebo in women who used gel most faithfully before and after intercourse, it cut infection risk by 54%.It also halved the chances of contracting the genital - herpes virus another risk factor for HIV.
The gel incorporates a potent anti- HIV drug that appears to block infection more effectively.