New York, July 19, 2010— The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is delighted by news that a clinical trial led by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) has provided the first evidence that a vaginal microbicide can provide women with protection from HIV infection. In the trial, named CAPRISA 004, a microbicide gel containing the antiretroviral drug Tenofovir as its active ingredient proved safe and 39% effective in preventing HIV infection in sexually active, adult women who used it both before and after sexual intercourse. CAPRISA 004 was the first clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of a microbicide based on an antiretroviral drug, and the first microbicide trial designed and led by South African scientists. It was funded by the governments of the United States and South Africa.
IAVI believes that the AIDS pandemic must be met with a comprehensive response, one that promotes existing modes of HIV prevention, invests in new prevention tools, and ensures that those already infected receive treatment and care. The CAPRISA trial results provide proof of concept for a new tool for HIV prevention that women can independently control. Biologically, women are more vulnerable to HIV than men, and cultural and economic factors can increase their risk of HIV infection. Women account for half of HIV infections globally and 60% of all people living with HIV in Africa. In nine southern African countries, young women are three times more likely to be HIV positive than their male peers. Clearly, women need HIV prevention tools, like microbicides and HIV vaccines, that they can use independent of male cooperation.
We look forward to next steps to take forward the findings of the CAPRISA 004 trial. For now, we congratulate CAPRISA and its partners for advancing this promising tool in the global campaign against HIV. Their achievement shows what can be accomplished when the power of science is focused on a pressing need.