A trial testing the effectiveness of microbicides in preventing HIV in women has been stopped, according to UN agencies. The trial was halted because of a higher number of infections among women taking the microbicide cellulose sulfate compared with those in the placebo group.
In a recently released statement, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said, “This is a disappointing and unexpected setback in the search for a safe and effective microbicide that can be used by women to protect themselves against HIV infection.”
The statement also noted that while there is no present explanation for the higher rate of HIV transmission, “the need to continue research to find a user-controlled means of preventing HIV infection in women is urgent.” More
Jessica Ogden, a Senior HIV/AIDS Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women, says that while this cessation is a setback, “it is vital that the search for new HIV prevention options continue…Women need to have an option that is practical and practicable in the context of their everyday lives, and microbicide science holds out much hope in this regard.”