Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

03 February 2012

Current State of Microbicide Research

via Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, by Robin J. Shattock and Zeda Rosenberg

Microbicides represent a potential intervention strategy for preventing HIV transmission. Vaginal microbicides would meet the need for a discreet method that women could use to protect themselves against HIV. Although early-generation microbicides failed to demonstrate efficacy, newer candidates are based on more potent antiretroviral (ARV) products. Positive data from the CAPRISA 004 trial of tenofovir gel support use in women and represent a turning point for the field. This article reviews current progress in development of ARV-based microbicides. We discuss the consensus on selection criteria, the potential for drug resistance, rationale for drug combinations, and the use of pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic (PD) assessment in product development. The urgent need for continued progress in development of formulations for sustained delivery is emphasized. Finally, as the boundaries between different prevention technologies become increasingly blurred, consideration is given to the potential synergy of diverse approaches across the prevention landscape.

An effective microbicide may be one of the best ways to address a central gap in current HIV prevention strategies: lack of a discreet method that women can use to protect themselves from infection. Recently, the World Health Organization reported that AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age globally, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (World Health Organization 2009). Methods available to prevent HIV include condoms, male circumcision, and behavioral interventions, but data indicate that they are insufficient to protect women. Among women in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the highest-risk factors for acquiring HIV is being in a stable long-term relationship where condom use is low (Shattock and Solomon 2004).

Condoms are impractical for women who want to conceive children or who cannot persuade their partners to use them. Next to an effective vaccine, microbicides (topical preexposure prophylaxis [PrEP]) and oral PrEP have the greatest potential to provide women with protection they can control. Both could be configured to protect men and women from transmission of HIV during unprotected anal intercourse.
Microbicides are topical PrEP products, such as gels, capsules, tablets, films, and intravaginal rings (IVR). They are designed to be applied either around the time of coitus, used on a daily basis (gels and films), or to deliver product over a prolonged period

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[Content that is linked from other sources is for informational purposes and should not construe a Mapping Pathways position.]

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