More good news on the AIDS front

Gel Cuts AIDS, Herpes Risk for Women (emphasis added),

The study was randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled—the gold standard for clinical research—and the results were statistically significant. “It’s a really well-done study,” said Bruce Walker, director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard dedicated to immunology and HIV vaccine research.

“This is a potential game changer,” said Dr. Walker, who was briefed on the results but wasn’t involved in the study.

The herpes virus, HSV2, renders women more susceptible to HIV, so blocking that virus could add to the gel’s ability to prevent HIV.

The gel, which the researchers estimate could prevent half a million infections over the next 10 years in South Africa, contained the antiretroviral drug tenofovir, provided free by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc., which markets it in the U.S. as Viread. Administered as a pill in cocktails, the drug is widely used to treat people already infected with the AIDS virus. Gilead referred questions to Gilead Foundation President and Chairman Howard Jaffe, who said the company would support continuing research and any attempt to win regulatory approval.

Gilead rose to the challenge,

Dr. Abdool Karim persuaded Gilead, which licensed the gel for no royalty to two not-for-profit organizations. “I haven’t seen a drug company do that before,” said Dr. Abdool Karim. Gilead has also given licenses to manufacture generic versions of the drug itself to companies in India and South Africa. It collects a 5% royalty from sales of the generic drug.

Let’s pray that they continue to make progress in the fight against AIDS. As you can see in the article, there is a desperate need:

A Desperate Need

Young women in many parts of Africa have extremely high HIV rates. Below, the prevalence of HIV in pregnant women in rural Vulindlela, South Africa, near Durban, between 2005 and 2008. This was a site for a successful trial of a gel women can apply to protect themselves from the virus.

Age HIV Prevalence (%)
16 and Under 10.6
17-18 21.3
19-20 33.0
21-22 44.3
23-24 51.1

Source: Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa


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