Still a long wait for approved HIV-protective gel

Chris Bateman


June 2013 – that’s the ‘realistic’ date by which vulnerable South African women can expect to begin using an officially approved vaginal microbicide gel that would provide them with an unprecedented tool to protect themselves from HIV infection.
This is the belief of biochemist and epidemiologist, Dr Quarraisha Abdool Karim, who, together with her clinician and fellow epidemiologist husband, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, led the now world-renowned ‘proof of concept’ trial of tenofovir vaginal gel to prevent HIV infection in women.
In a 3-year study of 889 women in both rural and urban KwaZulu-Natal, they demonstrated a 39% reduction in HIV infection and a 51% reduction in genital herpes infection among women who used the gel (containing 1% of the antiretroviral (ARV), tenofovir).
The trial results dominated the XVIIIth International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, in July and led to a clamour for confirmatory studies and fast-tracking of the gel, of which the efficacy increases with use. (Women who used the gel in more than 80% of their sex acts had a 54% reduction in HIV infections.) Unlike other HIV prophylactic trials that use available tablets, the tenofovir gel was manufactured only for the trial, run by the Durban-based Centre for AIDS Programme Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), of which the research couple are directors.

Author's affiliations

Chris Bateman, HMPG

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vaginal microbicide gel, CAPRISA.

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(9):560,562.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-08-05
Date published: 2010-09-07

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