The world’s third rectal microbicide trial launched in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today, with sites preparing to open in Boston, Massachusetts, and Birmingham, Alabama soon. Scientists will test the rectal safety and acceptability of tenofovir gel, a microbicide developed for vaginal use that has shown promise for preventing HIV through vaginal intercourse. Depending on the outcome of this new study, tenofovir gel could be further evaluated to determine if it can reduce the risk of HIV among both men and women who engage in receptive anal intercourse.
"International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA) congratulates the Microbicide Trials Network and its partners on the launch of this very important study – the third Phase I trial in history to look at the safety and acceptability of a microbicide gel applied rectally," said Jim Pickett, IRMA Chair and Director of Advocacy at AIDS Foundation of Chicago. "This brings us another step closer to the development of safe and effective rectal microbicides for use during anal intercourse," he said.
Condoms are considered the gold standard for the prevention of HIV and STDs during sexual intercourse, but not all receptive partners are able or willing to use condoms every time. An act of anal intercourse that is not protected by a condom is 10 to 20 times more likely to result in HIV transmission compared to an act of unprotected vaginal intercourse, due to the fragility of the rectal lining and the large presence of cells targeted by HIV. New methods to protect against the sexual transmission of HIV are urgently needed. Strategies beyond condoms – such as vaccines, oral prevention, and microbicides – will provide individuals with more prevention options.
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