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HIV Prevention in the future: Microbicides

Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections is an important part of staying healthy when you have HIV, and condoms are an essential part of safer sex. In the future, a new prevention tool women can control will be available: microbicides. Research is currently underway on several microbicides, and though much has been learned, there is no microbicide on the market yet.

Microbicides are substances that will be inserted vaginally to reduce transmission of various sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. A microbicide may be produced in different forms:

  • gel
  • suppository
  • cream
  • vaginal ring

Microbicides will work in different ways to reduce the risk of transmission:

  • enhance the natural defenses of the vagina
  • kill or immobilize HIV
  • create a barrier, which blocks entry of HIV into cells
  • inhibit replication of HIV once it has entered cells

They will be useful for people with HIV as well as those trying to avoid infection. Current research is focused on microbicides for vaginal intercourse, but they are also needed for couples having anal intercourse. Advocates are working to ensure that research on rectal microbicides is also ongoing.

For more information on microbicide development, check out the Global Campaign for Microbicides and the Alliance for Microbicide Development. For Canadian advocacy information, search for MAG-Net (Microbicides Advocacy Group-Network) on the Canadian AIDS Society site.

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