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Preventing HIV Infection
Strategic Guidance
on HIV/AIDS Prevention
Purpose of the Guidance Note
Strategic Orientation for UNFPA Action
Integrating HIV/AIDS Issues into the Country Programming Process
Country Situations
Core Support
Creating an Enabling Environment for HIV Prevention
Advances in New Technologies and Issues
The Way Forward
ICPD+5 Goals
Regional HIV/AIDS Statistics
Advances in New Technologies and Issues

Microbicides for HIV prevention
Male Circumcision

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Microbicides for HIV Prevention

One promising product under development are microbicides, which can be used vaginally or rectally to decrease microorganisms causing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Microbicides could provide direct prevention of HIV infection and indirect protection by preventing STIs that increase the propensity for HIV infection.

An important feature of microbicides is their potential for use in contraceptive and non contraceptive forms, unlike barrier methods such as condoms.

Microbicides would thus be ideally suited for ouples who wish to have children but without risk of the transmission of HIV infection.

Or, for dual protection from unwanted pregnancy and STI, condoms could be used in conjunction with microbicides for increased efficacy.

In communities where condom use is low or inconsistent, microbicides may offer a beneficial alternative, especially for women. Women are often limited in their ability to employ or insist that their partners employ many of the known strategies for preventing HIV, such as male condoms. Although microbicides afford women a weapon against HIV that they can control to some extent, microbicides protect both women and men. Some microbicides may have the ability to be used for vaginal washing in HIV-positive women prior to vaginal delivery and, thereby reduce transmission to infants. Reinfection of HIV-positive persons would also be theoretically reduced with microbicides.

Microbicide research involves developing and testing new products, and assessing the microbicidal properties f existing spermicidal products.

More than 50 microbicides are currently under development, about a fifth of which are in clinical trials (in Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, the United States and Zimbabwe, among others).

Most of the current research on microbicides is being supported by public-sector funding. Impediments to the private sector’s becoming active in microbicide development include regulatory uncertainty, unclear market potential, safety and liability issues, and skepticism over whether microbicides are effective in preventing HIV and other STIs.

To address these issues, an International Working Group on Microbicides was organized in 1993, with participation by UNAIDS, WHO and other international and national organizations.

The working group has produced guidelines on the development of microbicides and is active in coordinating efforts to produce a safe, effective, affordable and acceptable product.

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