With over 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS across the globe, advocates stress that more prevention options are needed, and a product currently in development—microbicides—could potentially save millions of people from infection.
Microbicides have for years been in development to reduce HIV transmission, and some even aim to prevent other STDs, as well. But since the rectum and vagina are biologically very different, safe and effective microbicides for both areas need to be developed.
The rectum is what AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) Director of Advocacy and International Rectal Microbicides Advocates (IRMA) chair Jim Pickett describes as “the perfect storm” for HIV infection. Although women will primarily use vaginal microbicides, safety trials are being conducted to determine if they are safe for anal use. Both men and women will ideally utilize rectal microbicides.
According to AFC policy manager Jessica Terlikowski, Chicago has been a hub for microbicide activism.
“This is the city where microbicide advocacy has been taking place for the last 10 years,” Terlikowski said.
That is why advocates are ecstatic that an upcoming clinical trial of a vaginal microbicide gel will take place in Chicago, as well as other cities. Terlikowski said that the trial would most likely be launched this summer and added that support for microbicide research and development is on the rise.