Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gel Says: GTFO HIV!

Exciting news on the anti-STD front, people!  If it weren't before noon, I'd straight up have a cocktail, but as a general rule I try to avoid drinking before noon on weekdays.  It's tempting though, because this is cause for celebration:  for the first time, a vaginal gel has shown real promise in a large-scale clinical trial at preventing the spread of HIV in sexually active women.  

this use of gel should also prevent STDs because ew, don't sleep with that, but no. 

There have been studies of vaginal gels for the prevention of STD transmission before, but they haven't been particularly promising.  This particular gel, CAPRISA, contains an antiviral agent called tenofovir, which has been used as an oral HIV medication since 2001.  The trial showed that CAPRISA reduced acquisition of HIV in women by as much as 54% when used correctly, and reduced acquisition of genital herpes by 51%.  Hot damn!

saving lives, one plunge at a time

Antiviral/microbicidal vaginal gels are being developed primarily for women living in the developing world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, where women account for 75% of all people with HIV/AIDS.  The gold-standard HIV prevention method around the world is condoms, because they work extremely well and don't cost a lot.  However, condoms only work if you use them, and many women in these areas find their men - especially husbands and boyfriends - unwilling to do so.  

because they don't WANNA!

Gels, however, do not require any cooperation whatsoever from a partner.  In fact, it's likely a partner might not even know the gel is there.  It can be inserted into the vagina up to 12 hours prior to sexual contact, and though it must also be applied after sex, it can be up to 12 hours later, making the whole thing very manageable and discreet.

I've gotten excited before about supposed breakthroughs in the fight against HIV, and it ended up not turning out so well.  This time, though, the study and results have been thoroughly vetted and have gone through the peer-review process, so I'm pretty confident that this good news is actually good.  So take that, HIV.  You too, herpes, ya jerk.  We've got our eyes on you - and you mofos are going DOWN.

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