New Microbicides Tests for Better Protection Against HIV in Rwanda

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A new phase of testing of microbicides, a possible new HIV prevention tool for women, gets underway in Rwanda.

The research is being carried out and tests will begin before the end of the year for the gel microbicide. It is done by Project Ubuzima, an international NGO which promotes reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention, working closely with the Ministry of Health.

Project Ubuzima's Community Outreach manager, Marie-Michele Umulisa, said, that the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) will consider two types of microbicides: a ring and a gel. The latter, being based on anti-retrovirals (ARVs), holds great promise for protection against HIV infection. "Tests for the Gel will start in November. The research is still going on and is now in its second phase, but we are looking forward to phase three which will examine efficacy," she said.

Microbicides are products to help women protect themselves against HIV. Originally they were gels used at the time of sex, but currently the study is on ARVs-based Microbicides, called Dapivirine. According to Umulisa, this is a better way that can save many females from the pandemic. They offer long term protection and are more convenient. In addition, they are safer and will enable women to have control on their sex lives; because once the microbicides are inserted the partner can't notice, even during intercourse.

In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly six in ten women are living with HIV. Results from the previous study of HIV occurrence in Rwanda show that four out of a hundred women can get infected with HIV annually. Microbicides are being developed to reduce the transmission of HIV to women during intercourse. According to the study, these products would give women a new way to protect themselves from HIV, one that would empower women to protect their own health.

For along period of time efforts to find HIV/AIDS cure, have proved futile and more efforts to address the pandemic is focused on behavioral change and treatment. However, there is need to find a broad strategy, one that focuses on prevention and works to eradicate epidemics. Microbicides are a vital part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, which would complement other prevention measures like abstinence, condoms, male circumcision, and behavioral change, among others.

(Focus Media / AllAfrica.com)

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