Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 07:13 | SYDNEY
Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 07:13 | SYDNEY

AIDS: Scientists announce 'game changer'

5 August 2010 09:57

Jonathan Stambolis is a researcher for Pacific Friends of the Global Fund.

One of the most highly-anticipated moments of the recent International AIDS Conference held in Vienna was the presentation of the CAPRISA 004 trial results.

The strength of the results suggests that the microbicide could prove to be the long-awaited 'game changer' needed to transform global prevention efforts. In particular, the gel could help overcome the difficulties millions of vulnerable women around the world face in negotiating mutual monogamy or condom use, obstacles which have thwarted global prevention efforts for decades.

The study, conducted over two-and-a-half years, was designed to investigate the efficacy of a 1% tenofovir vaginal microbicide gel in preventing the transmission of HIV from men to women. And on the third day of the conference, around two thousand delegates, including UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé and the South African Health Minister, packed into Session Room 7 to see scientists make history with the announcement that their microbicide gel had cut the incidence of infection by an average of 39% among trial participants.

Significantly, among the women who did become HIV positive, there were no adverse developments arising from their unsuccessful use of the gel (such as changes in viral load or the development of tenofovir resistance after their infection).

Among 'high adherers' (being those women who correctly used the microbicide gel more than 80% of the time), there were as many as 54% fewer infections compared to the numbers recorded in the placebo group. The results stunned the audience, which gave the scientific panel three standing ovations for their groundbreaking work.

There were good reasons to be excited. This was the first time that scientists had ever been able to demonstrate the efficacy of a vaginal microbicide preventing the transmission of HIV, following years of frustration and failure in the field of microbicide development.

Click here to watch the presentation of the CAPRISA 004 trial results at the International AIDS Conference on 20 July 2010.