Monday, February 15, 2010

Have you seen someone more beautiful

AIDS, which initially began as a “small outbreak” of a rare form of cancer among young gay men in California and New York in 1981, has become one of the most destructive pandemics in world history, claiming more than 25 million lives worldwide. During the 1990s, we saw several breakthroughs in AIDS research and the development of new drugs aimed at combating the disease, but still today, none can eradicate the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, from the body. The same disappointment has been seen in the search for a treatment to protect against the spread of the HIV virus. But the years of frustration may not have been in vain as researchers say they may finally have a “promising candidate.”

In a clinical trial of 3,099 HIV-uninfected women conducted between February 2005 and September 2008 in Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United States, PRO 2000, a gel made by Massachusetts-based Indevus Pharmaceuticals, reduced the rate of HIV infection in women by 30 percent, compared to those using no gel or an unmedicated product. Another microbicide, BufferGel made by ReProtect Inc., was also tested, but showed no significant effect on HIV transmission. During the course of the study, 194 infections occurred; 36 among women using Pro2000 gel, 54 among women using the BufferGel, 51 among those using the placebo gel, and 53 among those who used no gel.

The study was specifically designed to show the gels were safe; an especially important factor considering other studies have shown would-be microbicides actually raised the risk of infection. “For the first time since the epidemic we are seeing something that would provide an option for women to prevent infection,” principal investigator Professor Gita Ramjee told journalists.

The finding was presented at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Montreal. “Although more data are needed to conclusively determine whether PRO 2000 protects women from HIV infection, the results of this study are encouraging,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which funded the study. “An effective microbicide would be a valuable tool that women could use to protect themselves against HIV and one that could substantially reduce the number of new HIV infections worldwide.”

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