New Progress Made in the Fight Against AIDS
The gel was not 100 percent successful; in fact it worked only in 40 percent of the cases, but even so, the people were happy about the results of the tests. Sharon L. Hillier, who is a gynecology professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s medical school and who was the principal investigator of the Microbicide Trials Network stated that the people were glad that the gel was developed, especially the women. There are certain countries where the men simply refuse to wear a condom, despite of all the risks they subject themselves to. It is part of their culture, or of their religion, and they simply refuse to do it. For the first time, the women from those countries have the possibility of using protection without men knowing it, and it was effective in certain cases.
There have been other clinical trials done in the domain as well, and if goes according to the plan, then or maybe two different products will be released in 2013. One of them will be a gel similar to the product I previously mentioned, whereas the second one will be something different. Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, which is an advocacy group for the prevention of AIDS, stated that they want to test the “oral prep” method. This method basically uses the same medications used by the people who suffer from AIDS, the only difference being that it is used by the people who do not suffer from it, but who are engaging in risky sexual encounters. These are the people who engage in unprotected anal sex, or who have lots of sex with strangers which might have AIDS.
These people should take a daily dose of the medicine taken by the people who suffer from AIDS and if fewer people who take the medicine become infected than the ones who are taking a placebo, then it means that the medicine is somewhat successful. In combination with the gel, the two methods might have an 80% chance, or even more of stopping the disease. If this will happen, it is very likely that the medications will be introduced faster than the gel, as it has already been proven that the medications work in the case of the people who suffer from AIDS. Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who is a professor of epidemiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, and who was one of the main researchers in the gel study from South Africa stated that the gel idea should be used as well.
The gel remains in the vaginal tissue for a very long time, and this means that one can not develop a drug-resistant form as it would happen with the pills. Unlike the drugs, the gel is also capable of stopping the herpes. The experts have stated that the women like to have numerous choices when it comes to choosing the birth control. Some of them like to choose the condoms, some like to choose the “morning-after pill”, some like to choose the daily pills, and so on. It is very likely that they would like to have the same choice when it comes to the drugs which can be used against the AIDS prevention as well.
The researchers want to do something about the gay men, and about the heterosexual women who have anal sex. It has been discovered that 95 percent of the gay men have had anal sex at least once, and that 45 percent of the heterosexual women have had it. As a result, the researchers want to develop a rectal version of the drug as well. Dr. Ian McGowan, who was another researcher in the microbicide trials, stated that the rectal gel will be a little different than the vaginal one, as it should not draw too much water into the rectum, as it would make it very unpleasant to use. The gay and bisexual Hispanic and black men are currently the highest AIDS risk group in the United States of America. They will be asked to come to Boston, Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico, to test the gel, and to state how it feels using it. One of the biggest concerns would be not to inflame the rectal lining, which would actually increase the chances of becoming infected with the disease. The men will be asked not to have sex during the period of the trial, in order to make sure that they will not become infected.
The researchers want to conduct larger trials which would involve thousands of women who have anal sex and gay men as well. The researchers have stated that many people believe that the solution for the anal sex protection is much more complicated than the vaginal one, but they say that it is not true. They have stated that they only need to protect the first inches of the colon, and not the entire length, as many would believe. They are confident that they will find certain solution for this problem as well.
They have managed to prove that a certain kind of gel was effective in the case of the monkeys infected with the simian AIDS. A new method will be developed in the future as well, and it is expected to be released in 2015. It will be a vaginal ring, and it will contain a new antiretroviral drug, called dapivirine. This drug was rejected once because the body does not have the capacity of assimilating it as it should, but it can build up in the vaginal tissue without any concerns for the health. The ring would need to be exchanged once every month, so it would not be too much of an inconvenience for the women.11