Vaginal Gel Developed that Could Protect from HIV
Researchers say a vaginal gel could protect from HIV, based on preliminary findings in monkeys that obtained protection from a virus similar to HIV. The study is the first experiment using an antimicrobial gel with an integrase inhibitor that is currently used to prevent HIV from replicating and taken orally by HIV infected patients.
The use of a vaginal gel composed of the antiviral compound L-870812 was found to protect female pigtailed macaques from SIHV, a combination of HIV and a virus found in monkeys. Three monkeys were used, and one for control given a placebo.
The vaginal gel was applied twice a week for seven weeks. Thirty minutes after the gel was applied researchers exposed the monkeys to the human equivalent of HIV, finding that the gel worked to protect from SHIV up to seven weeks.
One of the monkeys receiving the vaginal gel was found to have the SHIV virus after seven exposures, but encouragingly, showed no signs of drug resistant virus and continued using the gel for fifteen weeks. Those findings are important because of past concerns that patients can develop drug resistant HIV from using antiviral medications. The control monkey developed SHIV after three challenges.
More studies are needed to see if the vaginal gel could protect humans from HIV but the results are promising. If human studies show that HIV could be prevented using the antiviral vaginal gel researchers would advance the studies further - something that unfortunately takes time.