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Microbicide Gel Shows Reduced Risk of HIV and Herpes Infection in Women

July 19, 2010
The MHRP applauds the positive results of the CAPRISA 004 microbicide trial.

The MHRP applauds results announced today that the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) 004 trial showed that a vaginal microbicide gel could safely and effectively reduce the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV from men to vulnerable women. 

The microbicide containing 1% tenofovir—an antiretroviral drug widely used in the treatment of HIV—was found to be 39% effective in reducing a woman’s risk of becoming infected with HIV during sex and 51% effective in preventing genital herpes infections in the women participating in the trial.  The results were announced at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria.

The last year has seen many advances in HIV prevention including results from RV144, the recent discovery of neutralizing antibodies, and now positive results from this microbicide study.

COL Nelson L. Michael, the MHRP Director stated that, “The historic results of CAPRISA 004 show, for the first time, that an effective antiretroviral based microbicide is possible. This is a major step forward to empowering women and girls to protect themselves against HIV. The CAPRISA 004 results demonstrate that the campaign to controlling the HIV/AIDS pandemic is gathering momentum through the use of many prevention strategies including male circumcision, microbicides, and eventually a globally effective HIV vaccine.”

Michael added that, “No single trial can provide all of the answers for a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy. The HIV/AIDS research community will need to study the promise of tenofovir vaginal gel in larger communities and look at different strategies to ensure that this approach can be safe, effective, and sustainable over the long run.”

CAPRISA 004 is the first study to demonstrate the effectiveness of an antiretroviral (ARV)-based HIV prevention approach. The study is 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.

The CAPRISA 004 trial was funded by USAID and the Government of the Republic of South Africa and implemented by CAPRISA with assistance from two USAID-funded implementing partners, FHI and CONRAD. For more information, please visit:

Photo courtesy of CAPRISA