Studies Search for "User Friendly" Microbicides for HIV Prevention

Published: May 4, 2012

In 2009, researchers completed a study that showed a microbicide gel could protect women from HIV infection. The gel, known as CAPRISA 004, was nearly 40 percent effective in reducing the risk of infection during sex. The encouraging findings have led to follow-up studies. But just because a microbicide can block HIV, does not mean that women will use it.

Top ranking health officials called the CAPRISA 004 study historic. They said it showed that a microbicide could empower women to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. It was something they could use without asking a man’s permission. But would women use it outside of a clinical trial?

That’s what a U.S.-funded study called Project LINK is trying to find out. Dr. Kathleen Morrow is leading a team of researchers at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

“It’s actually the first study to my knowledge to link those physical, chemical and rheological properties and performance characteristics of a gel to the user experience – the actual sensory perceptions and experiences of the person using the product,” she said.

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