Researchers make scientific breakthrough in fight against HIV, genital herpes with a vaginal gel

February 03, 2016

The promising findings of the CAPRISA 004 study is only a first step in determining if tenofovir gel is effective in preventing HIV and herpes infection; additional studies are urgently needed to confirm and extend the findings of the CAPRISA study. Important information is expected from current studies such as the Microbicide Trials Network's VOICE study, which is currently assessing daily tenofovir gel as well as daily tenofovir and Truvada tablets in women in several African countries. Studies of daily Truvada tablets are underway in intravenous drug users, young high-risk women and men who have sex with men.

"We are proud to have partnered with CAPRISA and CONRAD on this important study. We see it as a major victory in the field of HIV prevention research. This is the first evidence that an antiretroviral drug in a gel form - a microbicide - can reduce HIV and genital herpes infection in women," said Ward Cates, President of FHI. "The next step is to see whether other studies underway confirm these exciting results."

Only after drug regulatory authorities determine that tenofovir gel is safe and effective for HIV prevention, can the gel be made available to the public for HIV prevention. Since this process can take several years, TIA and U.S.-based CONRAD are working together to address the challenges to making the gel available first to women in South Africa.

"CONRAD has given the rights to manufacture this gel to the government of South Africa to get this much needed product to women in South Africa as rapidly as possible," said Dr. Henry Gabelnick, Executive Director of CONRAD, who provided the gel for the study. "The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) is working closely with the South African government, CAPRISA and CONRAD to ensure that this important innovation makes an impact in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Chairperson of TIA.

Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator said, "The results of the CAPRISA trial provide new hope and direction for not only HIV prevention, but also broader efforts under the Global Health Initiative. We recognize that microbicides will be a great asset to HIV prevention efforts, and the U.S. Government is pleased to support this important research."

Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, Vice-Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal stated, "This piece of research is a significant milestone for women in the thirty year history of the HIV/AIDs epidemic, microbicides and antiretroviral research. The research represents that which is best in science with direct translation into prevention policy, bringing a message of hope and empowerment to women, policymakers and scientists. These research findings will not only significantly alter the shape and form but also the future direction of this devastating epidemic."

"The trial's findings create a new vision for the opportunity for prevention of HIV and re-define the public health approach to HIV control," added Dr Linda Fried, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York.

Source: CONRAD