Thirty years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and after decades of research disappointments, 2010 saw major breakthroughs that put scientific advances such as microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and vaccines within reach and created a favorable environment for other prevention and treatment efforts. In fact, some experts predict that over the next year, some of these discoveries could change the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic.
So what comes next? Colorlines will be covering the HIV epidemic closely throughout this year, in which the epidemic plunges into its fourth decade. Here, we examine 10 major HIV stories of 2010—and how experts expect them to unfold during 2011.
1. Microbicides March Toward the Market
Could applying a gel to the vagina or rectum one day prevent HIV? Scientists hope so. Last year, South African researchers reported breakthroughs in microbicide research. They found that inserting a vaginal-gel version of an antiretroviral medicine called tenofovir (prescribed in pill form as Viread) could reduce HIV incidence in women by 39 percent—and up to 54 percent in the most careful users.
What to watch: Never have scientists been closer to identifying a viable microbicide than they are today. Next steps include confirming these results. Some experts believe that a microbicide for women could be on the market by 2014. Efforts to develop a rectal microbicide are also under way; however, vaginal and rectal tissue are very different from each other, so this research may take significantly longer***.
[If an item is not written by an IRMA member, it should not be construed that IRMA has taken a position on the article’s content, whether in support or in opposition.]
***Note – Rectal microbicide research is indeed a bit behind compared to vaginal microbicides – but it is moving forward nonetheless. There are small trials underway now with sites in Pittsburgh, Boston, San Juan and Birmingham!
Learn more about rectal microbicide research and advocacy at the home of IRMA – International Rectal Microbicide Advocates.