Goooooal! While South Africa was in the spotlight for hosting the World Cup games, its AIDS researchers were quietly preparing for an announcement of a major milestone in their field: For the first time ever, a vaginal gel has unequivocally blocked the transmission of HIV.
In a trial that involved nearly 900 South African women, those who received a vaginal gel that contains an anti-HIV drug had a 39% lower chance of becoming infected by the virus than those who received a placebo. "It is the first time any biological intervention against HIV-1 transmission has ever shown convincing efficacy in a large trial," says John Moore, who studies similar vaginal microbicides at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. "It's a clear-cut result with obvious protection at a meaningful level."
The study is reported online today in Science.