A multicenter research team led by the University of Pittsburgh is developing microbicides specifically designed to prevent rectal transmission of HIV, with the further aim of assessing their safety and efficacy in lab and early clinical studies.
Funded by an $11 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, the Combination HIV Antiretroviral Rectal Microbicide (CHARM) program includes a project that will reformulate existing antiretroviral drugs into topical preparations that can be applied to the rectum, said principal investigator Ian McGowan, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine and of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and an investigator at the Magee-Womens Research Institute.
“Unprotected receptive anal intercourse is the highest-risk sexual activity for HIV transmission,” Dr. McGowan noted. “Vaginal microbicides already are being extensively studied, and a similar approach might be a very effective way of preventing rectal HIV transmission. It will be critical to determine whether vaginal microbicides are safe and effective when used in the rectum, and also to develop rectal-specific products.”