New studies find ways to cut HIV infection

With an AIDS vaccine still out of reach, two rigorous new studies have found different ways to sharply cut HIV infections among women and schoolgirls,... More Below... Posted by on Jul 20th, 2010 and filed under Health.

With an AIDS vaccine still out of reach, two rigorous new studies have found different ways to sharply cut HIV infections among women and schoolgirls, who make up a majority of the newly infected in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women who used a vaginal microbicidal gel containing an antiretroviral medication widely used to treat AIDS, tenofovir, were 39 percent less likely over all to contract HIV than those who used a placebo. According to a two-and-a-half year study of 889 women by Caprisa, a South Africa-based AIDS research center, those who used the gel most regularly reduced their chances of infection by 54 percent.

Meanwhile, a separate large study in Malawi sponsored by the World Bank and made public on Sunday found that if poor schoolgirls and their families received small monthly cash payments, the girls had sex later, less often, and with fewer partners.

HIV is a lentivirus that causes AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, or breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells. The four major routes of transmission are unsafe sex, contaminated needles, breast milk, and transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth (vertical transmission). Screening of blood products for HIV has largely eliminated transmission through blood transfusions or infected blood products in the developed world.

(Thanks to The New York Times and Wikipedia)