Overview of microbicides for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus.
Abdool Karim, Salim Safurdeen.
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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention tools that women can use and control are urgently needed. Microbicides are chemical products applied to the vagina or rectum to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. Four classes of candidate microbicides have been tested to date: those that (1) enhance the natural defences in the vagina to inactivate HIV; (2) inactivate HIV in the vagina; (3) prevent HIV from attaching to, and fusing with, the host cells; and (4) prevent HIV from replicating in genital tract host cells. Despite numerous disappointing efficacy trial results over the past 20 years, substantial progress is now being made in microbicide development after the release of the CAPRISA 004 trial, which provided proof-of-concept that topical antiretroviral microbicides can prevent sexual transmission of HIV and herpes simplex type-2 infection. Microbicides, which fill an important gap for women-controlled prevention methods, have the potential to alter the course of the HIV pandemic.