Thu Apr 14,11:52 AM ET
By ERICA BULMAN, Associated Press Writer
GENEVA - The United Nations AIDS chief predicted Thursday that a vaginal gel that protects women from contracting HIV during intercourse could be ready in as little three to four years.
With the successful development of a vaccine still nowhere in sight, UNAIDS chief Peter Piot said a gel designed to thwart the transmission of the AIDS virus during sex would be the next best thing.
"Where we have better hope is something at least as important, and that is a so-called microbicide," Piot said, adding there were currently about 15 HIV/AIDS microbicide products being tested around the world. "Conceptually, it's straightforward, whereas with the vaccine we still don't know where to go.
Women often have to rely on whether their male partner is faithful and uses a condom, Piot said. Abstinence is often not an option, especially in marriage, and negotiating the use of a condom within any relationship in any culture is difficult.
"Over half of all new infections today occur in women," Piot said. "Because of this increasing feminization of the epidemic we need ways to protect women and ways that are under the control of women, preferably one a male partner wouldn't even know the woman is using.
Indeed, these two quotes say it all for me... the availability of a drug to prevent AIDS in women who are inherently poised as victims in the AIDS epidemic is a plus for EVERYONE, not just women.