Health & Beauty | WHO India/Pakistan
|State-of-the-Art Microbicides to Prevent HIV|
Bobby Ramakant – Citizen News Service
May 24, 2010
The microbicides field has undoubtedly moved and shifted a lot in the past decade. Now, with first generation microbicides candidate products up and gone, antiretroviral treatment (ART) - drug based microbicides in spotlight, and only three major microbicides efficacy studies remaining, the need to lobby for increased funding of microbicides research and development, was never so compelling.
The need to bolster HIV prevention has certainly not dimmed - and so has the need to up HIV treatment, care and support which is becoming acute on daily basis. The International Microbicides Conference (M2010) opened with the plenary that cited UNAIDS data, from a news from New York Times (At Front Lines, AIDS War Is Falling Apart) "For every 100 people put on antiretroviral treatment (ART), 250 people are getting newly infected with HIV."
"People were already questioning that whether universal access to treatment is achievable without significantly reducing the number of new infections" said Professor (Dr) Robin Shattock, who is a Professor of Cellular and Molecular Infection in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at St George's University of London, UK.
"Donors were questioning too whether it is sustainable to continue the roll out of treatment across the globe" said Prof Shattock.
There is no doubt that HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes all need to be fully funded, supported, and rolled out in all possible ways so as to reach the hardest-to-reach affected communities.
FIRST MICROBICIDES CONFERENCE TO TALK ABOUT HIV PREVENTION TECHNOLOGIES IN A BROADER CONTEXT
"This is the first microbicides conference to talk about HIV prevention technologies in a broader context. It also includes Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and really the two fields of microbicides and PrEP are starting to become very blurred" said Prof Shattock. "The research is going on taking the same tenofovir based drug orally to prevent infection or applying a similar drug topically - the distinction between PrEP and microbicides have become more blurred."
THAI AIDS VACCINE TRIAL MUST BE REPLICATED
In September 2009, the world's largest AIDS vaccine trial (Thai Prime-Boost study) to date showed the first evidence that an experimental AIDS vaccine could lower the risk of HIV infection. The results were complex; the observed benefit from the vaccine was modest; and the field is still years away from a highly protective vaccine. "The caveats to the Thai Prime-Boost study results are important and true. But letting them become the entire story does a severe, even dangerous, disservice to the field, the trial and especially the 16,000 people who participated in the trial," said Mitchell Warren, Executive Director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention.
"The Thai AIDS Vaccine trial needs to be repeated which could change things dramatically" said Prof Shattock.
MOVES AND SHIFTS IN MICROBICIDES FIELD
"With microbicides, when the first generation microbicides were successfully tested, and we should not underestimate what a significant advancement it was, but it appears to either lack sufficient potency or not be used appropriately enough to show statistical end-points" shares Prof Shattock.
Bobby Ramakant is a Policy Adviser to Citizen News Service (CNS), a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s WNTD Awardee (2008), writes extensively on health and development. Website: www.citizen-news.org, email: bobby(at)citizen-news.org