Promising HIV prevention microbicide tenofovir gel being tested for safety of rectal use

Published: October 13, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 13, 2010 ? Tenofovir gel, a vaginal microbicide that has shown promise for preventing HIV through vaginal sex, is being tested in a new trial looking at its safety and acceptability when used rectally. The results of the study, being led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), will help determine if the gel should be evaluated further for its potential to prevent HIV among both men and women who engage in receptive anal intercourse.

While condoms are generally effective for protecting against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, most acts of anal sex go unprotected. Moreover, the risk of acquiring HIV through unprotected anal sex is at least 20 times greater than unprotected vaginal sex and increases if other infections are already present in the rectal lining.

Microbicides ? substances applied topically on the inside of the rectum or vagina ? could potentially help prevent the rectal transmission of HIV, although considerably more research has been conducted looking at microbicides for preventing transmission of HIV through vaginal sex. Tenofovir gel, for example, is a candidate microbicide specifically developed to prevent vaginal transmission of HIV.

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