WASHINGTON: United States (US) researchers on Wednesday reported developing a new vaginal gel that might help protect women from HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) even it’s applied three hours after sex.
Vaginal gels containing anti-retroviral drugs are important for HIV prevention but are all designed to be applied by women before sex but this can interfere with sex practices and limit their use, the researchers wrote in their Science Translational Medicine paper.
They believe a gel that can be applied after sex will be more practical because it will give women more control and requires less preparation before sex and less partner acceptance.
Developed by US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers, the gel contains the anti-HIV drug raltegravir.
Using a macaque model to assess efficacy, the researchers found applying the gel 30 minutes before exposure protected two of three macaques from SHIV, a combination of HIV and a related monkey virus.
More importantly, the gel is equally effective when applied after exposure.
The researchers said five of six macaques treated with the gel three hours after SHIV exposure remained uninfected after 20 virus challenges and the 10-week follow-up period.
The researchers noted these observations require confirmation in larger numbers of animals.
“In conclusion, we show pre-clinical in vivo data that support use of topical integrase inhibitors for HIV prevention,” they said.
“This study supports evaluation of this class of drug for HIV prevention … (and) further evaluation of post-coital modalities in women for enhanced acceptability and compliance.” PNA/Xinhua